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RARI 


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RARE BOOK 




RARE BOOK 





THE GREAT INITIATES 



RAREBOC* 



THE 

GREAT INITIATES 

SKETCH OF THE SECRET HISTORY 
OF RELIGIONS 


BY 

Edouard schure 

Translated by FRED ROTHWELL, B.A. 


IN TWO VOLUMES 
VOL. II 

PYTHAGORAS-PLATO— JESUS, THE LAST 
GREAT INITIATE 


“ Th* Soul is the key of the Universe ’* 


LONDON 

WILLIAM RIDER & SQN, LIMITED 

19*0 



fcAREBOt* 


.1C. LIBRARY 

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CONTENTS 


PYTHAGORAS ° 
AND TIIB DELPHIC MYSTERIES 


CHAP. »AGB 

I. Greece in the Sixth Century . 3 

II. Years of Travei 12 

III. The Temple of Delphi . 32 

The Science of Apollo — Theory of Divination — 

The Pythoness Theoclea. 

IV. The Order and the Doctrine . 63 


The Test — First Degree : Preparation — Second 
Degree: Purification — Third Degree: Per- 
fection-Fourth Degree : Epiphany. 

V. Marriage of Pythagoras -- Revolution 
at Croton — The Master’s End — The 
School and its Destiny . . .162 

% 

PLATO 

THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 

I. The Youth of Plato and the Death of 

Socrates 185 

II. The Initiation of Plato and the Pla- 

tonic Philosophy 200 

III. The Mysteries of Eleusis . . .213 



VI 


CONTENTS 


JESUS 

THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

CHAP. 

I. Condition of the World at the Birth 

of Jesus 

II. Mary — First Development of Jesus ! 

III. The Essenes — John the Baptist — The 

Temptation 

IV. The Public Life of Jesus — Popular and 

Esoteric Instruction — Miracles — 

Apostles— Women 

V. Struggle with the Pharisees — Flight 
to Caesarea — The Transfiguration 

VI. Final Journey to Jerusalem — The 
Promise— The Supper — Trial of Jesus 
— Death and Resurrection . 

VII. The Promise and its Fulfilment — The 
Temple 


I'AGK 

247 

267 

281 

307 

327 

345 

388 



PYTHAGORAS 

AND THE DELPHIC MYSTERIES 


it. 



** Know thyself, and thou wilt know th* Universe and 
the Gods .” — Inscription on the Temple of Delphi. 

Evolution is the law of Life, 

Number is the law of the Universe, 

Unity is the law of God. 



PYTHAGORAS 

f 

CHAPTER I 

GREECE IN THE SIXTH CENTURY 

The soul of Orpheus had passed like a divine 
meteor across the troubled heavens of a new-born 
Greece. When the meteor had disappeared, the 
land was again wrapt in darkness. After a series 
of revolutions, the tyrants of Thrace committed 
his books to the flames, overthrew his temples and 
drove away his disciples. The Greek kings and 
numerous cities followed this example, more 
jealous of their unbridled licence ftian *of that 
justice which is the source of pure doctrine. They 
were determined to efface his very memory, to 
leave ho sign of his existence, and they succeeded 
so well, that, a few centuries after his death, a 
portion of Greece even doubted whether he had 
ever lived. It was in vain that the initiates kept 
alive his tradition for over a thousand years ; in 

vain that Pythagoras and Plato spoke of him as 
s 



4 


PYTHAGORAS 


divine ; the sophists and the rhetoricians saw in 
him no more than a legend regarding the origin of 
music. Even at the present time, savants stoutly 
deny the existence of Orpheus, basing their asser- 
tion on the fact that neither Homer nor Hesiod 
mentioned his name. The silence of these poets, 
however, is fi*lly explained by the interdict under 
which the local government had placed the great 
initiator. The disciples of Orpheus lost no oppor- 
tunity of rallying all the powers under the supreme 
authority of the temple of Delphi, and never tired 
of repeating that the differences arising between the 
divers states of Greece must be laid before the 
council of the Amphictyons. This was displeasing 
to demagogues and tyrants alike. Homer, who 
probably received his initiation in the sanctuary of 
Tyre, and whose mythology is the poetical transla- 
tion of the theology of Sanchoniathon, Homer the 
Ionian might very well have known nothing of the 
Dorian Orpheus whose tradition was kept all the 
more secret as it was the more exposed to persecu- 
tion. As regards Hesiod, who was born near Par- 
nassus, he must have known the name and doctrine 
of Orpheus through the temple at Delphi ; but 
silence was imposed on him by his initiators, and 
that for good reasons. 

And yet Orpheus was living in his work, in his 



GREECE IN THE SIXTH CENTURY 5 

disciples, and even in those who denied his very 
existence. What is this work ? where can the soul 
of his life be sought ? In the ferocious, military 
oligarchy of Sparta, where science was despised, 
ignorance erected into a system, and brutality ex- 
acted as being the complement of courage? In 
those implacable wars of Messenia 9 in which the 
Spartans were seen persecuting a neighbouring 
people to the point of extermination, and these 
Romans of Greece preparing for the Tarpeian rock 
and the bleeding laurels of the Capitol by hurling 
the heroic Aristomenes, the defender of his country, 
into an abyss ? Or should it rather be sought in 
the turbulent democracy of Athens, ever ready to 
convert itself into a tyranny ? Or in the praetorian 
guard of Pisistratus, or the dagger of Harmodius 
and Aristogiton, concealed under a myrtle branch ? 
Or in the many towns and cities of Hellas, of 
greater Greece and Asia Minor, of which Athens 
and Sparta offer us two opposing types ? Is it in 
any of these envious, these jealous democracies 
and tyrannies, ever ready to tear one another into 
pieces ? — No ; the soul of Greece is not there. It is 
in her temples, her mysteries and their initiates. 
It is in the sanctuary of Jupiter at Olympia, of Juno 
at Argos, of Ceres at Eleusis ; it reigns over Athens 
with Minerva, it sheds its beams over Delphi with 



6 


PYTHAGORAS 


Apollo, who penetrates every temple with his light. 
Here is the centre of Hellenic life, the heart and 
brain of Greece. He^e come for instruction poets 
who translate sublime truth into living images for 
the masses, sages who propagate these truths in 
subtle dialectics. The spirit of Orpheus is felt 
wherever beafc the heart of immortal Greece. We 
find it in poetry and gymnastic contests, in the 
Delphic and Olympian games, a glorious project 
instituted by the successors of the Master with the 
object of drawing nearer together and k uniting the 
twelve Greek tribes. We are brought into direct 
contact with it in the court of the Amphictyons, in 
that assembly of the great initiates, a supreme, 
arbitrary tribunal, which met at Delphi, a mighty 
centre of justice and concord, in which alone Greece 
recovered her unity in times of heroism and 
abnegation . 1 

And yet Greece in the time of Orpheus ; her 
intellect, an unsullied, temple-guarded doctrine ; 
her soul, a plastic religion ; and her body, a lofty 

1 The Amphictyonic oath of the allied peoples gives some idea of the 
greatness and social might pf this institution : “ We swear that wc will 
never overthrow Amphictyonic towns, never, during either peace or 
war, prevent them from obtaining whatever is necessary for their needs. 
Should any power dare to attempt this, we will march against it and 
destroy its towns. Should impious hands remove the offerings of the 
temple of Apollo, we swear that we will use our feet, our arms, our 
voice, and all our strength against them and their accomplices / 1 



GREECE IN THE SIXTH CENTURY 7 

court of justice with Delphi as its centre, had 
begun to decline early in the seventh century. 
The orders sent out from Delphi were no longer 
respected, the sacred territories were violated. 
The race of men of mighty inspiration had dis- 
appeared, the intellectual and moral tone of the 
temples deteriorated ; the priests syld themselves 
to politicians. From that time the Mysteries them- 
selves became corrupted. 

The general aspect of Greece had changed. The 
old sacerdotal and agricultural royalty was suc- 
ceeded either by tyranny pure and simple, by 
military aristocracy, or by anarchical democracy. 
The temples had become powerless to check the 
threatening ruin. A new helper was needed. It 
was therefore necessary to popularize esoteric teach- 
ing. To enable the thought of Orpheus to live 
and expand in all its beauty, the knowledge of the 
temples must pass over to the lay classes. Accord- 
ingly, under different disguises, it penetrated the 
brains of civil legislators, the schools of the poets, 
and the porticoes of the philosophers. The latter 
felt in their teachings the very necessity Orpheus 
had recognized in religion, that of two doctrines ; 
the one public and the other secret, manifesting the 
same truth in different degree and form, and suited 
to the development of the pupil. This evolution 



8 


PYTHAGORAS 


gave Greece her three great centuries of artistic 
creation and intellectual splendour. It permitted 
the Orphic thought, at once the initial impulse and 
the ideal synthesis of Greece, to concentrate its 
entire light and radiate it over the whole world, 
before her political edifice, undermined by internal 
dissensions, teetered beneath the power of Mace- 
donia and finally crumbled away under the iron 
hand of Rome. 

Many contributed to the evolution we are speak- 
ing of. It brought out natural philosophers like 
Thales, legislators like Solon, poets like Pindar, 
and heroes like Epaminondas. It had also a 
recognized head, an initiate of the very first 
rank, a sovereign, organising, creating intelligence. 
Pythagoras is the master of lay as Orpheus is the 
master of sacerdotal Greece. He translates and con- 
tinues the religious thought of his predecessor, 
applying it to the new times. His translation, how- 
ever, is a creation, for he co-ordinates the Orphic 
inspirations into a complete system, gives scientific 
proof of them in his teachings and moral proof in 
his institute of education, and in the Pythagorean 
order which survived him. 

Although appearing in the full light of historical 
times, Pythagoras has come down to us as almost a 
legendary character. The main reason for this is 



GREECE IN THE SIXTH CENTURY 9 


the terrible persecution of which he was the victim 
in Sicily, and which cost so many of his followers 
their lives. Some were crushed to death beneath 
the ruins of their burning schools, others died of 
hunger in temples. The Master’s memory and 
teaching were only perpetuated by such survivors 
as were able to escape into Greece. # Plato, at great 
trouble and cost, obtained through Archytas a 
manuscript of the Master, who, it must be men- 
tioned, never transferred to writing his esoteric 
teachings except under symbols and secret charac- 
ters. His real work, like that of all reformers, was 
effected by oral instruction. The essence of the 
system, however, comes down to us in the Golden 
Verses of Lysis, the commentary of Hierocles, frag- 
ments of Philolaus and in the Timaeus of Plato, 
which contains the cosmogony of Pythagoras. To 
sum up, the writers of antiquity are full of the spirit 
of the Croton philosopher. They never tire of relat- 
ing anecdotes depicting his wisdom and beauty, his 
marvellous power over men. The Neoplatonists 
of Alexandria, the Gnostics, and even the early 
Fathers of the Church quote him as an authority. 
These are precious witnesses through whom may 
be felt continually vibrating that mighty wave of 
enthusiasm the great personality of Pythagoras 
succeeded in communicating to Greece, the final 



10 


PYTHAGORAS 


eddies of which were still to be felt eight hundred 
years after his death. 

His teaching, regarded from above, and unlocked 
with the keys of comparative esoterism, affords a 
magnificent whole, the different parts of which are 
bound together by one fundamental conception. 
In it we find a ^tional reproduction of the esoteric 
teaching of India and Egypt, which he illumined 
with Hellenic simplicity and clearness, giving it a 
stronger sentiment and a clearer idea of human 
liberty. t 

At the same time and at different parts of the 
globe, mighty reformers were popularizing similar 
doctrines. Lao-Tse in China was emerging from 
the esoterism of Fo-Hi ; the last Buddha Sakya- 
Mouni was preaching on the banks of the Ganges ; 
in Italy, the Etrurian priesthood sent to Rome an 
initiate possessed of the Sibylline books. This was 
King Numa, who, by wise institutions, attempted 
to check the threatening ambition of the Roman 
Senate. It was not by chance that these reformers 
appeared simultaneously among such different 
peoples. Their diverse missions had one common 
end in view. They prove that, at certain periods, 
one identical spiritual current passes mysteriously 
through the whole of humanity. Whence comes 
it ? It has its source in that divine world, far away 



GREECE IN THE SIXTH CENTURY 11 

from human vision, but of which prophets and 
seers are the envoys and witnesses. 

Pythagoras crossed the whole of the ancient 
world before giving his message to Greece. He 
saw Africa and Asia, Memphis and Babylon, along 
with their methods of initiation and political life. 
His own troubled life resembles € a ship driving 
through a storm, pursuing its course, with sails un- 
furled, a symbol of strength and calmness in the 
midst of the furious elements. His teachings convey 
the impression of a cool, fragrant night after the 
bitter fire and passion of an angry, blood-stained 
day. They call to mind the beauty of the firma- 
ment unrolling, by degrees, its sparkling archi- 
pelagoes and ethereal harmonies over the head of 
the seer. 

And now we will attempt to set forth both his 
life and his teaching apart from the obscurities of 
legend and the prejudices of the schools alike. 



CHAPTER II 

YEARS OF TRAVEL 


At the beginning of the sixth century before our 
era, Samos was one of the most flourishing islands 
of Ionia. Its harbour fronted the violet peaks of a 
slumbering Asia Minor, the abode of luxury and 
charm. The town was situated on a wi^e bay with 
verdant coasts, and retreated, tier upon tier, up the 
mountain in the form of an amphitheatre, itself 
lying at the foot of a promontory on which stood 
the temple of Neptune. It was dominated by the 
colonnades of a magnificent palace, the abode of 
the tyrant Polycrates. After depriving Samos of 
her liberty he had given the island all the lustre of 
art and Asiatic splendour. Courtesans from Lesbos 
had, at his bidding, taken up their abode in a 
neighbouring palace, to which they invited the 
young men and maidens of the town. At these 
fitts they taught them the most refined voluptuous- 
ness, accompanied with music, dancing and feast- 
ing. Anacreon, on the invitation of Polycrates, was 
transported to Samos in a trireme with purple sails 
and gilded masts ; the poet, a goblet of chased 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


13 


silver in his hand, sang before this high court of 
pleasure his languishing odes. The good fortune 
of Polycrates had become proverbial throughout 
Greece. He had as a friend the Pharaoh Amasis, 
who often warned him to be on his guard against 
such unbroken fortune, and above all not to pride 
himself on it. Polycrates answered the Egyptian 
monarch 1 * advice by flinging his ring into the sea. 
“This sacrifice I offer unto the gods/' he said. 
The following day a fisherman brought back to the 
tyrant the precious jewel, which he had found in 
the belly of a fish. When the Pharaoh heard of 
this, he said he would break off his friendship with 
Polycrates, for such insolent good fortune would 
draw down on him the vengeance of the gods. 
Whatever we may think of the anecdote, the end of 
Polycrates was a tragic one. One of his satraps 
enticed him into a neighbouring province, tortured 
him to death, and ordered his body to be fastened 
to a cross on Mount Mycale. And so, one even- 
ing as the blood-red orb of the sun was sinking in 
the west, the inhabitants of Samos saw the corpse 
of their tyrant crucified on a promontory in sight 
of the island over which he had reigned in glory 
and abandonment. 

_ m- 

To return to the beginning of Polycrates’ reign. 
One star-lit night a young man was seated in a 



14 


PYTHAGORAS 


wood of agnus castus, with its glimmering foliage, 
not far from the temple of Juno, the Doric front of 
which was bathed in the rays of the moon, whose 
light added to the mystic majesty of the building. 
A papyrus roll, containing a song of Homer, had 
slipped to the ground, and lay at his feet. His 
meditation, begun at twilight, was continued into 
the silence of the night. The sun had long ago 
disappeared beneath the horizon, but its flaming disc 
still danced in unreal presence before the eyes of 
the young dreamer. His thoughts ha to wandered 
far from the world of visible things. 

Pythagoras was the son of a wealthy jeweller of 
Samos and of a woman named Parthenis. The 
Pythoness of Delphi, when consulted during a 
journey by the young married couple, had promised 
them : 44 a son who would be useful to all men and 
throughout all time." The oracle had sent them 
to Sidon, in Phoenicia, so that the predestined son 
might be conceived, formed, and born far from the 
disturbing influences of his own land. Even before 
his birth the wonderful child, in the moon of love, 
had been fervently consecrated to the worship of 
Apollo by his parents. The child was born ; and 
when he was a year old his mother, acting on 
advice already received from the priest of Delphi, 
bore him away to the temple of Adonai, in a valley 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


15 


of Lebanon. Here the high priest had given him 
his blessing and the family returned to Samos. 
The child of Parthenis was very beautiful and 
gentle, calm and sedate. Intellectual passion alone 
gleamed from his eyes, giving a secret energy to 
his actions. Far from opposing, his parents had 
encouraged him in his precocious lining towards 
the study of wisdom. He had been left free to 
confer with the priests of Samos and the savants 
who were beginning to establish in Ionia schools in 
which the principles of natural philosophy were 
taught. At the age of eighteen he had attended the 
classes of Hermodamas of Samos, at twenty those 
of Pherecydes at Syros ; he had even conferred 
with Thales and Anaximander at Miletus. These 
masters had opened out new horizons, though none 
had satisfied him. In their contradictory teach- 
ings he tried to discover the bond and synthesis, 
the unity of the great whole. The son of Par- 
thenis had now reached one of those crises in which 
the mind, over-excited by the contradictions of 
things, concentrates all its faculties in one supreme 
effort to obtain a glimpse of the end, to find a path 
leading to the sun of truth, to the centre of life. 

Throughout that glorious night Pythagoras fixed 
his gaze on the earth, the temple, and the starry 
heavens in turn. Demeter, the earth-mother, the 



1 6 PYTHAGORAS 

v 

Nature whose secrets he wished to pierce, was 
there, beneath and around him. He inhaled her 
powerful emanations, felt the invincible attraction 
which enchained him, the thinking atom, to her 
bosom, an inseparable part of herself. The sages 
he had consulted had said to him : “ It is from her 
that all springs. Nothing comes from nothing. 
The soul comes from water, or fire, or from both. 
This subtle emanation of the elements issues from 
them only to return. Eternal Nature is blind and 
inflexible, resign thyself to her fataS laws. The 
only merit thou wilt have will be that thou knowest 
them, and are resigned thereto/' 

Then he looked at the firmament and the fiery 
letters formed by the constellations in the unfathom- 
able depths of space. These letters must have a 
meaning. For if the infinitely small, the move- 
ment of atoms, has its raison d'£tre } why not also 
the infinitely great, the widely scattered stars, whose 
grouping represents the body of the universe? 
Yes ; each of these worlds has its own law ; all move 
together according to number and in supreme 
harmony. But who will ever decipher the alphabet 
of the stars ? The priests of Juno had said to him : 
u This is the heaven of the gods, which was before 
the earth. Thy soul comes therefrom. Pray to 
them, that it may mount again to heaven." 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


17 


These meditations were interrupted by a voluptu- 
ous chant, coming from a garden on the banks of 
the Imbrasus. The lascivious voices of the Lesbian 
women, in languishing strains, were heard accom- 
panying the music of the cithara, responded to 
in the Bacchic airs chanted by the youths. Sud- 
denly other cries, piercing and mouraful, from the 
direction of the harbour, mingled with these voices. 
They were the cries of rebels whom Polycrates 
was embarking to sell as slaves in Asia. They 
were being struck with nail-studded thongs, to 
compel them to crouch beneath the pontoons of 
the rowers. Their shrieks and blasphemous cries 
died away in the night, and silence reigned over all. 

A painful thrill ran through the young man's 
frame ; he checked it in an attempt to regain pos- 
session of himself. The problem lay before him, 
more pressing and poignant than before. Earth 
said : Fatality . Heaven said : Providence . Man- 
kind, between the two, replied : Madness / Pain / 
Slavery! In the depths of his own nature, how- 
ever, the future adept heard an invincible voice 
replying to the chains of earth and the flaming 
heavens with the cry : Liberty ! Who were right ? 
sages, or priests, the wretched or the mad, or was it 
himself ? In reality all these voices spoke the truth, 

each triumphed in his own sphere, but none gave 

n. B 



18 PYTHAGORAS 

up to him its raison d'Stre. The three worlds all 
existed, unchangeable as the heart of Demeter, the 
light of the constellations and the human breast, 
but only the one who could find agreement between 
them and the law of their equilibrium would be 
truly wise ; he alone would be in possession of 
divine knowledge and capable of aiding mankind. 
It was in the synthesis of the three worlds that the 
secret of the Kosmos lay I 

As he gave utterance to this discovery he had 
just made, Pythagoras rose to his fee*. His eager 
glance was fixed on the Doric facade of the temple ; 
the majestic building seemed transfigured beneath 
Diana's chaste beams. There he believed that 
he saw the ideal image of the world and the solu- 
tion of the problem he was seeking. The base, 
columns, architrave, and triangular pediment sud- 
denly represented, in his eyes, the triple nature of 
man and the universe, of the microcosm and the 
macrocosm crowned by divine unity, itself a trinity, 
The Kosmos, controlled and penetrated by God, 
formed 

" The sacred Quaternion, the source of Nature ; 
whose cause is eternal.” 1 

Yes, here concealed in these geometrical lines 
was the key of the universe, the science of numbers, 

1 Tht GoUUn Virsu if Pythagoras. 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


*9 


the ternary law regulating the constitution of 
beings, and the septenary law that governs their 
evolution. Pythagoras saw the worlds move 
through space in accordance with the rhythm and 
harmony of the sacred numbers. He saw the 
balance of earth and heaven of which human liberty 
holds control ; the three worlds, the natural, the 
human, and the divine, sustaining and determin- 
ing one another, and playing the universal drama 
in a double — ascending and descending — move- 
ment. He divided the spheres of the invisible en- 
veloping the visible world and ever animating it ; 
finally, he conceived of the purification and libera- 
tion of man, on this globe, by triple initiation. All 
this he saw, along with his life and work, in an 
instantaneous flash of illumination, with the abso- 
lute certainty of the spirit brought face to face with 
Truth. Now he must prove by Reason what his 
pure Intelligence had obtained from the Absolute, 
and this needed a human life ; it was the task of a 
Hercules. 

Where could he find the knowledge necessary to 
bring such a labour to a successful issue ? Neither 
the songs of Homer, nor the sages of Ionia, nor the 
temples of Greece would suffice. 

The spirit of Pythagoras, which had suddenly 
found wings, began to plunge into his past life, 



20 


PYTHAGORAS 


into his mist-enveloped birth and his mother's 
mysterious love. Childhood’s memory returned to 
him with striking clearness. He recalled the fact 
that his mother had carried him in her arms, when 
only a babe of twelve months, to the temple of 
Adonai, in a vale of Lebanon. He saw himself 
again as a chikd, clinging to the neck of Parthenis, 
with mighty forests and mountains all around, 
whilst the river formed a waterfall close by. She 
was standing on a terrace shaded with giant 
cedars. In front of her stood a majestic-looking, 
white-bearded priest, smiling on the mother and 
child as he uttered grave-sounding words the little 
one did not understand. Often had his mother 
brought back to his mind the strange utterance of 
the hierophant of Adonai : u O woman of Ionia, 
thy son shall be great in wisdom ; but remember 
that, though the Greeks still possess the science of 
the gods, the knowledge of God can no longer be 
found elsewhere than in Egypt." These word* 
came back to him along with his mother's smile, the 
old man’s beautiful face, and the distant murmur of 
the waterfall dominated by the priest's voice, with 
that magnificent scenery all around, like the dream 
of another life. For the first time he guessed the 
meaning of the oracle. He had indeed heard of the 
wonderful knowledge of Egyptian priests and their 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


21 


dreadful mysteries, though he thought he could 
do without it all. Now he understood that he 
needed this " science of God,” to penetrate to the 
very heart of nature, and that he could find it only 
in the temples of Egypt. It was the gentle Par- 
thenis who, with maternal instinct, had prepared 
him for this work, and borne him a$ an offering to 
the sovereign God! From this moment he made 
up his mind to go to Egypt, and there undergo 
initiation. 

Polycrates prided himself on being the protector 
of philosophers as well as of poets. He willingly 
gave Pythagoras a letter of recommendation to 
Pharaoh Amasis, who introduced him to the priests 
of Memphis. The latter were opposed to receiv- 
ing him, and were induced to consent only with 
the utmost difficulty, Egyptian sages distrusted 
Greeks, whom they charged with being fickle and 
inconstant. They did all they could to discourage 
the young Samian. The novice, however, sub- 
mitted with unfaltering patience and courage to the 
delays and tests imposed on him. He knew before- 
hand that he would only attain to knowledge by 
entirely mastering his will throughout his entire 
being. His initiation under the pontificate of 
Sonchis the high priest lasted twenty-two years. 
All the trials and temptations, the soul-rending 



22 


PYTHAGORAS 


dread and ecstatic joy passed through by Hermes, 
.the initiate of Isis, even to the apparent, or cata- 
leptic death of the adept and his resurrection in the 
light of Osiris, were experienced by Pythagoras, so 
that he now realized, not as a vain theory, but as 
something lived through, the doctrine of the Logos- 
Light, or of the universal Word, and that of human 
evolution through seven planetary cycles. At each 
step of this giddy ascent the tests became more for- 
midable. A hundred times the risk of death was 

* 

incurred, especially if one’s object was to gain con- 
trol over occult forces, and attain to the dangerous 
practice of magic and theurgy. Like all great men, 
Pythagoras believed in his star. No path that led 
to knowledge disheartened him, the fear of death 
could not check him, for he saw life beyond. 
When the Egyptian priests had recognized that he 
possessed extraordinary strength of soul and that 
impersonal passion tor wisdom, which is the rarest 
thing in the world, they opened out to him the 
treasures of their experience. Whilst with them 
he daily improved, and became filled with divine 
knowledge. He mastered sacred mathematics and 
the science of numbers, or universal principles, 
which he formulated anew and made the centre of 
his system. The severity of the Egyptian discipline 
in the temples also impressed on him the prodigious 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 23 

power of the human will when wisely trained and 
exercised, the endless applications, both to body 
and to soul, that can be made of it. “ The science 
of numbers and the art of will-power, 1 " said the 
priests of Memphis, " are the two keys of magic*? 
they open up all the gates of the universe." It was 
in Egypt that Pythagoras obtained that view from 
above, which allows of one seeing the spheres of 
life and the sciences in concentric order, and under- 
standing the involution of the spirit into matter by 
universal creation, and its evolution or re-ascent 
towards unity by way of that individual creation 
called the development of a consciousness. 

Pythagoras had reached the summit of Egyptian 
priesthood, and was perhaps thinking of returning 
to Greece, when war, with all its misery, burst upon 
the valley of the Nile, carrying away the initiate 
of Osiris in another direction. The despots of Asia 
had long been meditating the ruin of Egypt. Their 
repeated attacks had failed, for centuries past, 
before the wisdom of the Egyptian institutions, the 
power of the priesthood, and the energy of the 
Pharaohs. But the refuge of the science of 
Hermes, the kingdom from time immemorial, was 
not to remain for ever. Cambyses, son of the con- 
queror of Babylon, descended on Egypt with his 
innumerable hosts, famished as clouds of locusts, 



H 


PYTHAGORAS 


and put an end to the institution of the Pharaohs, 
the origin of which was lost in the night of time. 
In the eyes of the sages this was a catastrophe for 
the whole world. Hitherto Egypt had sheltered 
Europe against Asia. Her protecting influence 
still extended over the whole basin of the Mediter- 
ranean, by njeans of the temples of Phoenicia, 
Greece, and Etruria, with which the high Egyptian 
priesthood were in constant connection. This ram- 
part once overthrown, the Bull, with lowered head, 
was about to burst upon the land of Greece. Pytha- 
goras saw Cambyses invade Egypt, lie may have 
beheld the Persian despot, worthy scion of the 
crowned villains of Nineveh and Babylon, plunder 
the temples of Memphis and Thebes, and destroy 
that of Ammon. He may have seen the Pharaoh 
Psammitichus brought in chains before Cambyses, 
placed on a mound, and surrounded by the priests, 
the principal families, and the royal court. He may 
have witnessed the Pharaoh's daughter, clad in rags 
and followed by all her maids of honour similarly 
demeaned, the royal prince and two thousand young 
men, brought forward, bit in mouth and bridle on 
neck, before being beheaded ; the Pharaoh Psam- 
mitichus, choking back his sobs before the frightful 
scene, and the infamous Cambyses, seated on his 
throne, gloating over the anguish of his vanquished 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 25 

enemy. Cruel though instructive is this lesson of 
history after that of science ! What a picture of 
the animal nature let loose in man, culminating 
in this monster of despotism who tramples every- 
thing under foot, and, by his horrible apotheosis, 
imposes on humanity the reign of a most implac- 
able destiny ! • 

Cambyses had Pythagoras taken to Babylon, 
with a portion of Egyptian priesthood, and kept 
him within the gates. 1 This colossal city, which 
Aristotle compares to a country surrounded by 
walls, offered at that time an immense field for 
observation. Ancient Babel, the great prostitute 
of the Hebrew prophets, was more than ever, after 
the Persian conquest, a pandemonium of nations, 
tongues, and religions, in whose midst Asiatic des- 
potism raised aloft its dizzy tower. According 
to Persian tradition, i$ foundation dates back to 
the legendary Semiramis. She it is who was said 
to have constructed the monster enceinte , over fifty 
miles in circumference : the Imgur-Bel, its walls 
on which two chariots ran abreast, its superimposed 
terraces, massive palaces with polychrome reliefs, 
temples supported on stone elephants and sur- 
mounted by many-coloured dragons. There had 
followed in succession the series of despots who had 

1 Iamblichus relates this fact in his Life of Pythagoras . 



26 


PYTHAGORAS 


brought into subjection Chaldea, Assyria, Persia, 
a part of Tartara, Judaea, Syria, and Asia Minor. 
Hither Nebuchadnezzar, the assassin of the magi, 
had led captive the Jewish people who continued 
to practise their religion in one corner of the 
immense city which would have contained London 
four times ewer. The Jews had even given the 
great king a powerful minister in the person of the 
prophet Daniel. With Balthazar, the son of Nebuch- 
adnezzar, the walls of the old Babel had finally dis- 
appeared beneath the avenging hand of Cyrus, and 
Babylon passed for several centuries under Persian 
rule. By reason of this series of preceding events, 
at the time Pythagoras came there, there were three 
different religions side by side in the high priest- 
hood of Babylon : the ancient Chaldean priests, the 
survivors of the Persian magi, and the Hite of the 
Jewish captivity. The proof that these different 
priesthoods were in mutual agreement, on the eso- 
teric side, is found in the part played by Daniel, 
who, whilst acknowledging the God of Moses, 
remained first minister under Nebuchadnezzar, 
Balthazar, and Cyrus. 

Pythagoras was now obliged to enlarge his 
horizon, already so vast, by studying these doc- 
trines and religions, the synthesis of which was 
still preserved by a few initiates. In Babylon he 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


27 


was able to thoroughly study the knowledge in the 
possession of the magi, the heirs of Zoroaster. 
Though the Egyptian priests alone possessed the 
universal keys of the sacred sciences, the Persian 
magi had the reputation of carrying further the 
practice of certain arts. They claimed to control 
those occult powers of nature called pantomorphic 
fire and astral light. In their temples, it was said, 
darkness reigned in broad daylight, lamps were lit 
without human agency, the radiance of the Gods 
was visible and the rumble of thunder could be 
heard. The magi gave the name of celestial lion to 
this incorporeal fire, the agent that generates elec- 
tricity, which they could condense or disperse at 
will, and that of serpents to the electric currents of 
the atmosphere and the magnetic currents of the 
earth, which they claimed to be able to direct like 
arrows against mankind. They had also made a 
special study of the suggestive, attractive, and crea- 
tive power of the human word. To evoke spirits 
they employed graduated formulas, borrowed 
from the most ancient languages on earth. The 
following is the psychic reasoning they themselves 
gave thereof : “ Make no change in the barbarous 
names employed in evocation ; for they are the 
pantheistic names of God ; they are magnetized 
with the worship of multitudes, and their power is 



28 


PYTHAGORAS 


ineffable ." 1 These evocations, accompanied by 
prayer and purification, were, properly speaking, 
what was called at a later date, white magic. 

Accordingly we now see Pythagoras in Babylon, 
penetrating the arcana of ancient magic. At the 
same time, in this den of despotism, he witnessed a 
glorious spectacle ; on the ruins of the crumbling 
religions of the East, above their decimated and 
degenerate priesthood, a band of dauntless initiates, 
grouped together, were defending! their science, 
their faith, and as well as they could, justice. 
Boldly facing the despots, like Daniel in the den of 
lions, ever prepared to be torn to pieces, they 
tamed and fascinated the wild beast of absolute 
power by their intellectual might, disputing, toot 
by foot, the ground they had won. 

After his Egyptian and Chaldean initiation, the 
child of Samos knew far more than his teachers of 
natural philosophy, far more than any Greek, either 
priestly or laic, of his time. He was acquainted 
with the eternal principles of the universe and their 
application. Nature had opened up to him her 
secrets; the gross veils of matter had been torn 
from his eyes, enabling him to see the marvellous 
spheres of nature and spiritualized humanity. In 
the temples of Neith-lsis in Memphis, and Bel in 

1 The Oracles of Zoroaster , taken from the theurgy of Proclus. 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


29 


Babylon, he had learned many secrets as to the 
past history of religions, continents, and races. He 
had been able to compare the advantages with 
the disadvantages of the Jewish monotheism, the 
Greek polytheism, the Hindu trinitarianism, and the 
Persian dualism. He knew that all these religions 
were rays of one same truth, strained dcJwn through 
different degrees of intelligence and intended for 
different social conditions. He held the key, i>. 
the synthesis of all these doctrines, in esoteric 
science. His vision, compassing the past and 
plunging into the future, was bound to judge the 
present with singular lucidity. His experience 
showed him humanity threatened with the most 
terrible evils, through the ignorance of the priests, 
the materialism of the savants, and the lack of dis- 
cipline in the democracies. In the midst of this 
universal decay he saw Asiatic despotism increase ; 
from this dark cloud a terrible cyclone was about 
to burst upon defenceless Europe. 

Accordingly it was now the hour to return to 
Greece, there to fulfil his mission and begin his 
work. 

Pythagoras had been kept in Babylon for twelve 
years. To leave the city, an order from the king 
of Persia was necessary. Democedes, a compatriot 
of his and the king's physician, interceded in his 



3 <> 


PYTHAGORAS 


favour and obtained liberty for the philosopher. 
After an absence of thirty-four years Pythagoras 
returned to Samos. He found his country crushed 
and ruined by a satrap of the great king. Schools 
and temples were closed, poets and savants had fled 
like*a cloud of swallows before Persian caesarism. 
He had the Consolation, however, of seeing Hermo- 
damas, his first master, take his last breath, and of 
meeting Parthenis, his mother, the only one who 
had never doubted that he would return. For every 
one thought that the adventurous son of the jeweller 
of Samos was dead. Not for a moment had she 
doubted the oracle of Apollo. Well she divined 
that, beneath the Egyptian priest's white robe, her 
son was preparing himself for some lofty mission. 
She knew that there would come forth from the 
temple of Neith-Isis the beneficent master, the light- 
bearing prophet, of whom she had dreamed in the 
sacred wood of Delphi, and whom the hierophant of 
Adonai had promised her beneath the cedars of 

Lebanon. as > o * 

And now a light skiff was bearing away mother 
and son to a new exile over the azure waves of the 
Aegean sea. They were fleeing, with all their pos- 
sessions, from an oppressed and ruined Samos, and 
were making sail for Greece. Neither the Olympic 
crowns nor the poet's laurels tempted the son of 



YEARS OF TRAVEL 


3i 


Parthenis. His work was greater and more 
mysterious ; it was to rouse to life the slumbering 
soul of the gods in the sanctuaries, to restore the 
temple of Apollo to its former might and prestige, 
and then to found somewhere a school of science 
and of life whence should come forth, not politicians 
and sophists, but men and women initiates, true 
mothers and pure heroes 1 



CHAPTER III 


TFft TEMfLE OF DELPHI — THE SCIENCE OF 
APOLLO — THEORY OF DIVINATION — THE 
PYTHONESS THEOCLEA 

From the plain of Phocis the traveller mounts 
the smiling meadows bordering the banks of the 
Pleistus to plunge into a winding valley shut in 
between lofty mountains. At every step the way be- 
comes narrower and the country more sublime and 
deserted. Finally a circle of rugged mountains, 
crowned with wild-looking peaks, a veritable store- 
house of electricity, over which storms often rage, 
is reached. Suddenly, far up the sombre gorge, 
appears the town of Delphi, like an eagle’s nest, on 
a rock surrounded by precipices and dominated by 
the two peaks of Parnassus. From the distance the 
bronze Victories are seen sparkling in the light, as 
well as the brazen horses, the innumerable statues 
of gold, marshalled along the sacred path and 
arranged like a guard of heroes and gods round the 
Doric temple of Phoebus Apollo. 

This was the most sacred spot in Greece. Here, 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


33 


the Pythoness prophesied and the Amphictyons 
assembled ; here, the different Hellenic peoples 
had built round the sanctuary chapels containing 
treasured offerings. Here, processions of men, 
women and children, coming from afar, mounted 
the sacred path to greet the God of Light. From 
time immemorial religion had consecrated Delphi 
to the veneration of the people. Its central situation 
in Hellas, its rock, sheltered from profane hands 
and easy to defend, had contributed to this result. 
The place was calculated to strike the imagination, 
for a singular quality gave it great prestige. In a 
cavern behind the temple was a cleft in the rock 
from which issued a cold, vapoury mist, inducing, 
it was said, a state of inspiration and ecstasy. 
Plutarch relates that in bygone times a shepherd, 
when seated by the side of this cleft, began to 
prophesy. At first he was looked upon as mad, but 
when his predictions became realized, people began 
to investigate. The priests took possession of the 
spot and consecrated it to the divinity. Hence the 
institution of the Pythoness, who was seated above 
the cleft on a tripod. The vapours exhaling from 
the abyss occasioned convulsions and strange crises, 
provoking in her that second sight noticed in certain 
somnambulists. Eschylus, whose affirmation is not 
without weight, for he was the son of a priest of 



34 


PYTHAGORAS 


Eleusis, and an initiate himself, tells us in his 
Eumenides , by the mouth of the Pythoness, that 
Delphi had first been consecrated to the Earth, then 
to Themis (Justice), afterwards to Phoebe (the inter- 
ceding moon), and finally to Apollo, the solar god. 
In temple symbolism each of these names repre- 
sents long periods, and embraces centuries of time. 
The fame of Delphi, however, dates from Apollo. 
Jupiter, according to the poets, wishing to find the 
centre of the earth, started two eagles in their 
flight from east and west, and they met at Delphi. 
Whence comes this prestige, this worldwide and 
unchallenged authority which constituted Apollo 
as the god of Greece par excellence , and now makes 
the glory of his name inexplicable to us ? 

History is dumb on this important point. Ques- 
tion orators, poets, and philosophers, they will only 
give you superficial explanations. The real answer 
to this question remained the secret of the temple. 
Let us try to fathom it. 

In Orphic thought, Dionysos and Apollo were 
two different revelations of the same divinity. 
Dionysos represented esoteric truth, the foundation 
and interior of things, open to initiates alone. He 
held the mysteries of life, past and future existences, 
the relations between soul and body, heaven and 
earth. Apollo personified the same truth applied 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 35 

to life on earth and social order. The inspirer 
of poetry, medicine, and laws, he was science by 
divination, beauty by art, peace among nations by 
justice, and harmony between soul and body by 
purification. In a word, to the initiate Dionysos 
signified nothing less than the divine spirit in evolu- 
tion in the universe ; and Apollo, the Manifestation 
thereof to mankind on earth. The people had been 
made to understand this by a legend. The priests 
had told them that, in the time of Orpheus, 
Bacchus and Apollo had vied with one another for 
the tripod of Delphi. Bacchus had willingly given 
it up to his brother, and withdrawn to one of 
the peaks of Parnassus, where the Theban women 
were wont to celebrate his mysteries. In reality 
the two sons of Jupiter divided between them 
selves the empire of the world. The one reigned 
over the mysterious Beyond, the other over .the 
World of the Living. 

So that we find in Apollo the solar Logos, the 
universal Word, the mighty Mediator, the Vishnu 
of the Hindus, the Mithras of the Persians, and the 
Horus of the Egyptians. The old ideas of Asiatic 
esoterism, however, took on, in the legend of 
Apollo, a plastic beauty and an incisive splendour 
which made them penetrate the more deeply into 
human consciousness, like the shafts of the God, 



3 * 


PYTHAGORAS 


“ White-winged serpents springing forth from his 
golden bow/' says Eschylus. 

Apollo springs forth from the, mighty night at 
Delos ; all the goddesses greet his birth ; he walks 
and takes up his bow and lyre, his locks stream in 
the air and his quiver rattles on his shoulder ; the 
sea quivers, 'and the whole island shines with his 
glory scattered abroad in floods of golden flame. 
This is the epiphany of divine light, which by its^ 
august presence creates order, splendour and 
harmony, of which poetry is the marvellous echo. 
The god goes to Delphi and pierces with his arrows 
a monstrous serpent which was ravaging and laying 
waste the land, he purifies the country and estab- 
lishes the temple ; the image of the victory of this 
divine light over darkness and evil. In ancient 
religions, the serpent symbolized at once the fatal 
circle of life and the evil resulting therefrom. And 
yet from this life, once understood and overcome, 
springs forth knowledge. Apollo, slayer of the 
serpent, is the symbol of the initiate who pierces 
nature by science, tames it by his will, and break- 
ing the Karmic circle of the flesh mounts aloft in 
spiritual splendour, whilst the broken fragments of 
human animality lie writhing in the sand. For 
this reason Apollo is the master of expiation, of the 
purification of soul and body. Bespattered with 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


37 


the monster's blood, he performed expiation, puri- 
fied himself during an eight years exile beneath the 
bitter, health-giving laurels of the vale of Tempe. 
Apollo, trainer of men, likes to take up his abode 
in their midst ; he is pleased to be in towns with the 
youths and young men, at contests of poetry and 
the palaestra, though he remains only for a time. 
In autumn he returns to his own land, the home of 
* the Hyperboreans. This is the mysterious people 
of luminous and transparent souls who dwell in the 
eternal dawn of perfect felicity. Here are his true 
priests, his beloved priestesses. He lives with them 
in strong, intimate communion, and when he wishes 
to make mankind a royal gift, he brings back from„ 
the country of the Hyperboreans one of those 
mighty , radiant souls who is born on earth to teach 
and delight mortals. He himself returns to Delphi 
every spring, when poems and hymns are sung in 
his honour. Visible to none but initiates, he comes 
in dazzling Hyperborean glory, in a chariot drawn 
by sweetly-singing swans. Again he takes up his 
abode in the sanctuary, where the Pythoness speaks 
forth his oracles, and sages and poets listen. Then 
is heard the song of nightingales, the fountain 
of Castalia scatters silver spray on every hand, 
dazzling light and celestial music penetrate the 
heart of man and reach the very veins of nature. 



3 » 


PYTHAGORAS 


In this legen3 of the Hyperboreans may be found 
much light thrown on the esoteric basis of the 
Apollo myth. The land of the Hyperboreans is the 
Beyond, the empyrean of victorious souls, whose 
astral dawns light up its many-coloured zones, 
Apollo himself personifies the immaterial and in- 
telligible ligtit of which the sun is merely the 
physical image, and from which flows down all 
truth. The wonderful swans which bring him are 
poets and divine geniuses, messengers of his mighty 
solar soul, leaving behind them flashes of light and 
strains of glorious music. Hyperborean Apollo, 
accordingly, personifies the descent of heaven on to 
dearth, the incarnation of spiritual beauty in flesh 
and blood, the inflow of transcendent truth by 
inspiration and divination. 

It is now the moment to raise the golden 
veil of legend and enter the temple itself. How 
was divination practised therein ? Here we touch 
upon the secrets of Apollonian science and of the 
mysteries of Delphi. 

In antiquity, a strong tie united divination to the 
solar cults, and here we have the golden key to all 
the so-called magic mysteries. 

The worship of Aryan humanity from the be- 
ginning of civilization was directed towards the 
sun as the source of light, heat and life. When, 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


39 


however, the thought of the sages "rose from the 
phenomenon to the cause, behind thisT sensible fire, 
this visible light, they formed the concept of an im- 
material fire, an intelligible light, They identified 
the form with the male principle, the creative spirit 
or intellectual essence of the universe, and the latter 
with its female principle, its formative soul, its 
plastic substance. This intuition dates back to time 
immemorial. The conception I speak of is con- 
nected with the most ancient mythologies. It cir- 
culates in the Vedic hymns under the form of Agni, 
the universal fire which penetrates all things. It 
blossoms forth in the religion of Zoroaster, the 
esoteric part of which is represented by the cul^ 
of Mithras. Mithras is the male fire and Mitra 
the female light. Zoroaster formally states that the 
Eternal, by means of the living Word, created the 
heavenly light, the seed of Ormuzd, the principle 
of material light and material fire. For the initiate^ 
of Mithras the sun is only a rude reflection of this 
light. In his obscure grotto, whose vault is painted 
with stars, he invokes the sun of grace, the fire of 
love, conqueror of evil, reconciler of Ormuzd and 
Ahriman, purifier and mediator, who dwells in the 
soul of the holy prophets. In the crypts of Egypt, 
the initiates seek this same sun under the name of 
Osiris. When Hermes asks to be allowed to con- 



4 o 


PYTHAGORAS 


template the origin of things, at first he feels himself 
plunged into the ethereal waves of a delicious light, 
in which move all living forms. Then, plunging 
into the darkness of dense matter, he hears a voice 
which he recognizes as the voice of light . At the 
same time fire darts forth from the depths, immedi- 
ately all is light and chaos becomes order. In the 
Book of the Dead of the Egyptians the souls journey 
painfully towards that light in the barque of Isis. 
Moses fully adopted this doctrine in Genesis : 
“ Elohim said : Let there be light ; and ftiere was 
light." Now the creation of this light precedes 
that of the sun and stars. This means that, in the 
^rder of principles and cosmogony, intelligible pre- 
cedes material light. The Greeks, who moulded 
into human form and dramatized the most abstract 
ideas, expressed the same doctrine in the myth of 
Hyperborean Apollo. 

Consequently the human mind, by inner con- 
templation of the universe, from the point of view 
of the soul and the intelligence, came to conceive of 
an intelligible light, an imponderable element serv- 
ing as an intermediary between matter and spirit. 
It would be easy to show that natural philosophers 
of modern times insensibly draw somewhere near 
the same conclusion along an opposite path, t\e. by 
searching for the constitution of matter and seeing 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


4 * 


the impossibility of explaining it by itself. Even in 
the sixteenth century, Paracelsus, whilst studying 
the chemical combinations and metamorphoses of 
bodies, went so far as to admit of a universal occult 
agent by means of which they are brought about. 
The natural philosophers of the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, who conceived of the universe as 
being a dead machine, believed in the absolute void 
of celestial space. Yet when it was discovered that 
light is not the emission of a radiant matter, but 
rather the vibration of an imponderable element, 
one was obliged to admit that the whole of space is 
filled by an infinitely subtile fluid penetrating all 
bodies and through which waves of heat and light 
are transmitted. Thus a return was made to the 
Greek ideas of natural philosophy and theosophy. 
Newton, who had spent his whole life in studying 
the movements of the heavenly bodies, went even 
further than this. He called this ether sensorium 
Dei , or the brain of God, i.e. the organ by which 
divine thought acts in the infinitely great as well 
as in the infinitely small. In emitting this idea, 
which he regarded as necessary to explain the 
simple rotation of the heavenly bodies, the great 
natural philosopher had embarked on the open 
sea of esoteric philosophy. The very ether 
Newton's thought found in space, Paracelsus had 



4 * 


PYTHAGORAS 


discovered at the bottom of his alembics, and 
had named it astral light. Now this imponderable 
fluid, which is everywhere present, penetrating all 
things, this subtile but indispensable agent, this 
light, invisible to our eyes, but which is at the 
bottom of all phosphorescence and scintillation, 
has been proved to exist by a German natural philo- 
sopher in a series of well-appointed experiments. 
Reichenbach had noticed that subjects of very sen- 
sitive nerve fibre, when placed in a perfectly dark 
room in front of a magnet, saw at its two ends 
strong rays of red, yellow, and blue light. Some- 
times these rays vibrated with an undulatory move- 
ment, He continued his experiments with all kinds 
of bodies, especially with crystals. Luminous ema- 
nations were seen, by sensitive subjects, round all 
these bodies. Around the heads of men placed in 
the dark room they saw white rays , from their 
fingers issued small flames. In the first portion 
of their sleep somnambulists sometimes see their 
magnetizer with these same signs. Pure astral 
light appears only in a condition of lofty ecstasy, 
but it is polarized in all bodies, combines with all 
terrestrial fluids and plays diverse r6les in elec- 
tricity, in terrestrial and animal magnetism. 1 The 

1 Reichenbach called this fluid odyl*. His work huf been translated 
into English by Gregory : A'ese itches on Magnetism t Electricity , Heat, 
Light % Crystallization and Chemical Attraction . — London, 1850. 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


43 


interest of Reichenbach’s experiments is that they 
make precise the limitsand transition from physical 
to astral vision, capable of leading on to spiritual 
vision. They also enable us to obtain a faint 
glimpse of the infinite subtilties of imponderable 
matter. Along this path there is nothing to pre- 
vent our conceiving it as so fluid, scf subtile and 
penetrating, that it becomes in some way homo- 
geneous with spirit, serving the latter as a perfect 
garment. 

We have just seen that modern natural philo- 
sophy, in order to explain the world, has been 
obliged to recognize an imponderable, universal 
agent, that it has even proved its presence, and, in 
this way, without knowing it, has fallen in with the 
notions of ancient theosophies. Let us now try to 
define the nature and function of cosmic fluid in 
accordance with the philosophy of occultism in all 
ages. On this main principle of cosmogony, Zoro- 
aster is in agreement with Heraclitus, Pythagoras 
with Saint Paul, the Kabbalists with Paracelsus. 
Cybele-Maia reigns everywhere, the mighty soul of 
the world, the vibrating and plastic substance which 
the breath of the creative spirit uses at its will. Her 
oceans of ether serve to cement together all the 
worlds. She is the great mediator between the 
invisible and the visible, between spirit and matter, 



PYTHAGORAS 


44 

between the within and the without of the universe. 
Condensed in enormous masses in the atmosphere 
beneath the action of the sun, she flashes forth in a 
thunderbolt. Absorbed by the earth she circulates 
in magnetic currents. Subtilized in the nervous 
system of the animal she transmits her will to the 
limbs, her sedsations to the brain. More than that, 
this subtile fluid forms living organisms similar to 
material bodies. It serves as substance to the astral 
body of the soul, a garment of light which Jhe spirit 
is ever weaving for itself. The fluid becomes trans- 
formed, it rarefies or densities according to the souls 
it clothes or the worlds it envelops. Not only does 
it embody spirit and spiritualize matter in its living 
bosom, it reflects in a perpetual mirage both things 
and the thoughts and wills of mankind. The 
strength and duration of these images is in propor- 
tion to the intensity of the will producing them. 
And, in truth, there is no other means of explaining 
thought suggestion and transmission at a distance, 
that principle of magic now-a-days acknowledged 
and recognized by science . 1 Thus in the astral 
light the past of the worlds trembles in vague 
images, and the future is there also, with the living 

* See the Bulletin of the Soci£t£ de Psychologie Physiologique. M, 
Charcot, president 1885. See more especially the fine book by M 
Ochorowicx, Do la Suggestion Montale -. Paris, 1887. 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


45 


souls inevitably destined to descend into flesh. 
This is the meaning of the veil of Isis and the 
mantle of Cybele, into which all beings are 
woven. 

It is now seen that the theosophical doctrine of 
the astral light is identical with the secret doctrine 
of the solar Word in the religions of Greece and the 
East. It is also seen huw closely allied this doc- 
trine is to that of divination. The astral light is 
there revealed as the universal medium of the phe- 
nomena of vision and of ecstasy, which it explains. 
It is at once the vehicle which transmits the move- 
ments of thought, and the living mirror in which 
the soul contemplates the images of the material 
and spiritual world. Once transported into this 
element, the spirit of the seer leaves corporeal con- 
ditions. For him the measure of time and space 
is changed. In some way he participates in the 
ubiquity of the universal fluid. For him opaque 
matter becomes transparent, and the soul, disengag- 
ing itself from the body and rising in its own light, 
penetrates, in a state of ecstasy, into the spiritual 
world, sees souls clothed in their ethereal bodies 
and communicates with them. All the initiates of 
former times had a clear notion of this second sights 
or direct spiritual vision. Witness Eschylus, who 
puts into the mouth of the shade of Clytemnestra : 



PYTHAGORAS 


46 

“ Look at these wounds, thy spirit can see them ; 
when one is asleep, the spirit possesses a more 
piercing vision; in broad daylight, the eyes of 
mortals see but a little way." 

Let me add that this theory of clairvoyance and 
ecstasy is in wonderful agreement with the numer- 
ous experiments, scientifically carried out by savants 
and doctors of modern times, on lucid somnambu- 
lists and clairvoyants of every kind . 1 From these 
contemporary facts I shall endeavour Jpriefly to 
characterize the successive psychic conditions from 
simple clairvoyance to cataleptic ecstasy. 

The state of clairvoyance, as is seen by thousands 


1 There is a great deal of literature on this subject, very unequal in 
value, in France, Germany and England, I will here mention two 
books in which the subject is treated scientifically by men of real worth. 

(1) letters on Animal Magnetism^ by William Gregory, London, 
1850. Gregory was a professor of chemistry at the University of 
Edinburgh. His book is a profound study of the phenomena of animal 
magnetism, from suggestion to vision at a distance and lucid clair- 
voyance, on subjects observed by himself, in accordance with scientific 
method, and with minute exactness. 

(2) Die mystisi hen Erscheinungcn der menschlichen Natur, von Maxi- 
milian Perty, Leipzig, 1872. Perty is a professor of philosophy and 
medicine at the University of Berne. His book presents an immense 
repertory of all such occult phenomena as have historical value. The 
extremely remarkable chapter on clairvoyance (Schlafwachen), Volume 
I-, contains twenty accounts of female and five of male clairvoyants, 
related by the doctors who treated the cases. That of Weiner, treated 
by the author, is most curious. See also the treatisejyon magnetism by 
Dupotet and Deleuze, and the very strange book, Die Seherin von 
Prtvorst, by Justinus Kerner, 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


47 


of well-established facts, is a psychic one, differing 
as greatly from sleep as from a waking condition. 
The intellectual faculties of the clairvoyant, far 
from diminishing, increase in marvellous fashion. 
His memory is more correct, his imagination rtiore 
active, his intelligence more alert. The main point, 
in a word, is that we have here developed a new 
sense, which is no longer corporeal, but rather 
belongs to the soul. Not only are the thoughts of 
the magnetizer transmitted to him as in the simple 
phenomenon of suggestion, which itself is outside 
the physical plane, but the clairvoyant even reads 
the thoughts of those present, sees through walls, 
penetrates hundreds of miles into homes where he 
has never been, and reads the private life of people 
he does not know. His eyes are closed, incapable of 
seeing anything, but his spirit sees farther and better 
than his open eyes and seems to travel about freely 
in space . 1 In a word, though clairvoyance may 
be abnormal from the bodily point, of view, it is a 
normal and superior state from the point of view of 
the spirit. The consciousness has become deeper, 
the vision wider. The ego remains the same, but it 
has passed over to a higher plane, where the vision, 
freed from the coarse organs of the body, embraces 

1 Numerous examples in Gregory’s work : Letters XVI., XVII., and 



PYTHAGORAS 


and penetrates a vaster horizon . 1 It is to he noted 
that certain somnambulists, when submitting to the 
passes of the magnetizer, feel themselves flooded 
with increasingly dazzling light, whilst the awaking 
seems to them an unpleasant return to darkness. 

1 The German philosopher. Schelling, has acknowledged the great 
importance of somnambulism in the question of the immortality of the 
soul. He remasks that, in lucid sleep, there is produced an elevation 
of the soul, and its relative liberation with regard to the body, which 
does not take place in the normal state. In somnambulists, everything 
indicates the loftiest consciousness, as though their whole being were 
met in one luminous focus, uniting together past, present and future. 
Far from losing all memory of the past, it lies open before them, and 
even the veil of the future is at times cast aside in a glorious ray of 
light. If this is possible in earthly life, Schelling inquires, is it not 
certain that our spiritual personality, which follows us in death, is at 
this very moment present in us, that it is not born then but simply set 
free, and shows itself when it is no longer bound by the senses to the 
outside world? The post-mortem condition is accordingly more real 
than the earthly one. For in this life, that whfch is accidental, ming- 
ling with the whole, paralyzes in us that which is essential. Schelling 
calls the future state quite simply, clairvoyance. The spirit liberated 
from everything accidental in earthly life becomes stronger and more 
alive ; the wicked man becomes worse, the good better. 

Quite recently Charles du Prel has advanced the same opinion, 
supporting it with numerous facts and details in a well-written volume, 
Philosophic dcr Mystik (1886). He starts from this feet: the con- 
sciousness of the ego does not exhaust its object. “ Soul and conscious- 
ness are not two adequate terms ; they do not cover one another as 
they have not an equal scope. The sphere of the soul far surpasses 
that of the consciousness.” Consequently there is a latent ego in us. 
This latent ego, which manifests itself in sleep and in dreams, is the real 
ego, supra-terrestrial and transcendent, whose existence precedes our 
terrestrial ego which is bound to the bodj. The terrestrial ego is 
perishable, the transcendent ego is immortal. This is what St. Paul 
meant when he said, . . the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change 
our vile body, so that it be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


49 


Suggestion, thought reading, and distant vision 
are facts which already prove the independent 
existence of the soul, and transport us above the 
physical plane of the universe without making us 
leave it altogether. Clairvoyance, however, has 
infinite varieties and a scale of different states far 
wider than that of the waking condition. In pro- 
portion as the scale is mounted the phenomena 
become rarer and more extraordinary. I will 
mention only the principal stages. Retrospection is 
a vision of past events preserved in the astral light 
and revived by the sympathy of the seer. Divina- 
tion, properly so called, is a problematical vision 
of things to come either by introspection of the 
thoughts of the Irving which contain future actions 
in germ, or by the occult influence of superior spirits 
which unfold the future in living images before the 
soul of the clairvoyant. In both cases they are 
projections of thoughts into the astral light. 
Finally ecstasy is defined as a vision of the spiritual 
world, where good or evil spirits appear to the seer 
in human form and communicate with him. The 
soul seems really to be transported out of the body, 
which life has almost left, and which stiffens into a 
state of catalepsy resembling death. From what 
those who have been in a condition of sublime 

ecstasy tell us, nothing in the universe can express 

n. D 



So 


PYTHAGORAS 


the beauty and splendour of these visions, or the 
sentiment of an ineffable fusion with the divine 
essence which they bring back, a very transport of 
light and music. The reality of these visions may 
be doubted. It must, nevertheless, be added that if 
the soul, in* the average state of clairvoyance, has a 
correct perception of distant places and of absent 
ones, it is logical to admit that, in its loftiest exal- 
tation, it may have the vision of a higher and an 
immaterial reality. * 

In my opinion, it will be the task of the future 
to restore to the transcendent faculties of the human 
soul their dignity and social function, by reorganiz- 
ing them under the control of science and on the 
basis of a religion which is truly universal, open to 
all truths. Then science, regenerated by real faith 
and the spirit of love, will, with open eyes, mount 
aloft to those spheres in which speculative philo- 
sophy gropes about with bandaged eyes. Yes, 
science will become clear-sighted and redeeming in 
her mission, just in proportion as the consciousness 
and love of humanity increase in her. Perhaps 
it is through « the gate of sleep and dreams/' as 
Homer said, that divine Psyche, banished from our 
civilized life and weeping in silence beneath her 
veil, will regain possession of her altars. 

Anyhow, the phenomena of clairvoyance, studied 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI Ji 

from every aspect by present-day savants and 
doctors, throw an altogether new light on the rdle 
of divination in antiquity and on a host of ap- 
parently supernatural phenomena, with which the 
annals of every nation and people are filled. Of 
course, a distinction must be made between legend 
and history, hallucination and real vision. Still, 
the experimental psychology of our times teaches us 
not to reject, in a body, facts which fall within 
human possibility, but rather to investigate them 
from the point of view of well-ascertained laws. If 
clairvoyance is a faculty of the soul, we may no 
longer simply consign prophets, oracles, and sibyls 
to the domain of superstition. Divination has really 
been known and practised in temples of old, with 
fixed principles and a social and religious end in 
view. The comparative study of religions and 
esoteric traditions shows that these principles were 
the same everywhere, although their application 
may have varied infinitely. What has discredited 
the art of divination is that its corruption has given 
nse to the worst abuses, and that its glorious mani- 
festations are possible only in beings of exceptional 
purity. 

Divination, as practised at Delphi, was founded 
°n the principles we have just set forth ; the inner 
organization of the temple corresponded thereto* 



5* PYTHAGORAS 

As in the great temples of Egypt, it consisted of an 
art and a science. The art consisted in penetrating 
the far-away past and future by clairvoyance or 
prophetic ecstasy ; the science, in calculating the 
future in accordance with the laws of universal 
evolution. Art and science checked one another. 
All I will say of this science, called genethlialogy 
by the ancients, and of which the astrology of the 
middle ages is only an imperfectly understood 
fragment, is that it took for granted the esoteric 
encyclopedia as applied to the future o^f peoples 
and individuals. Though very useful in showing 
the direction things were taking, it was always 
of very doubtful application. Only the very 
loftiest minds knew how to use it. Pythagoras had 
thoroughly mastered it in Egypt, but in Greece it 
was practised with a less thorough or clear under- 
standing. On the other hand, clairvoyance and 
prophecy had made considerable progress. 

It is well known that this art was practised in 
Delphi through the agency of women, both young 
and old. They were called Pythonesses, and played 
the passive rdle of clairvoyant somnambulists. 
Their oracles, often obscure, were interpreted, trans- 
lated, and arranged by the priests in accordance 
with their own lights. Modern historians have 
seen in the institution of Delphi scarcely anything 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


53 


more than the exploitation of superstition by intel- 
ligent charlatans. Besides the assent, however, 
given by the whole of philosophic antiquity to the 
Delphic science of divination, several oracles 
related by Herodotus, such as those regarding 
Croesus and the battle of Salamis, speak in its 
favour. Doubtless their art had its beginning, its 
condition of prosperity, and its decay. Charlatan- 
ism and corruption exercised their demoralising in- 
fluence in the end, as we see in the case of king 
Cleomenes, who bribed the high priestess of Delphi 
to deprive Demaratus of his throne. Plutarch wrote 
a treatise inquiring into the reasons for the decline 
and extinction of the oracles ; this degeneracy was 
felt to be a misfortune throughout all classes of 
antiquity. At first, divination was practised with a 
degree of religious sincerity and scientific thorough- 
ness which raised it to the height of a real ministra- 
tion. On the pediment of the temple could be 
read the inscription : <4 Know thyself," and another 
one above the entrance door : “ Let no one enter 
here with impure hands." These words explained 
to all comers that earthly passions, falsehood and 
hypocrisy were not to pass the threshold of the 
sanctuary, that within, in awe-inspiring solemnity, 
reigned divine Truth. 

Pythagoras reached Delphi only after having 



54 


PYTHAGORAS 


visited all the temples of Greece. He had stayed 
with Epimenides in the sanctuary of Idaean Jupiter; 
he had been present at the Olympic games, and 
presided over the mysteries of Eleusis, where the 
hierophant had given up his place to him. Every- 
where had he been received as a master, and now he 
was expected at Delphi. Here the art of divination 
was in a languishing condition, and Pythagoras 
wished to restore its former prestige and might. 
Accordingly he went there not so much to consult 
Apollo as to enlighten his interpreters and revive 
their enthusiasm and energy. Through ftiem his 
influence would mould the soul of Greece and 
prepare a future for the land. 

Fortunately he found in the temple a marvellous 
instrument reserved for him, to all appearance, by 
the hand of Providence. 

Young Theoclea belonged to the college of the 
priestesses of Apollo. She sprang from one of those 
families in which the priestly dignity is hereditary. 
Her childhood had been fed on the mighty impres- 
sions imparted by the sanctuary, the ceremonies, 
paeans, and fites of Pythian and Hyperborean 
Apollo. Evidently she was one of those maidens 
born with an instinctive abhorrence for the things 
which attracted others. They love not Ceres and 
fear Venus, for the heavy atmosphere of earth 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


55 


troubles them, and the vague glimpse they have 
obtained of physical love seems to them the rape of 
the soul, the pollution of their undefiled, virginal 
being. On the other hand, they are strangely sen- 
sitive to mysterious currents, to astral influences. 
When the moon was shedding her soft beams on 
the sombre groves near the fountain* of Castalia, 
Theoclea would see white forms gliding by. She 
heard ypices in open daylight. On exposing her- 
self to the rays of the rising sun, their vibration 
threw her into a kind of ecstasy, during which she 
heard the singing of invisible choirs. At the same 
time she was quite indifferent to popular supersti- 
tion and idolatry ; a feeling of horror overcame 
her at the sacrifices of animals. She spoke to no 
one regarding the apparitions which disturbed her 
sleep, feeling with clairvoyant instinct that the 
priests of Apollo were not in possession of that 
supreme light she needed. The latter, however, 
had fixed on her with the object of persuading 
her to become Pythoness. She felt herself attracted 
by a higher world to which she had not the key. 
What were these gods who manifested themselves 
to her in vibrations which troubled her being, and 
to whom she owed her inspiration? This she 
would know before giving herself up to them, for 
great souls need to see clearly even in abandoning 
themselves to divine powers. 



56 


PYTHAGORAS 


With what a deep thrill, with how mysterious a 
presentiment the soul of Theoclea must have been 
stirred when she saw Pythagoras for the first time, 
and heard his eloquent voice resound among the 
columns of the sanctuary of Apollo 1 She felt the 
presence of the initiator for whom she was waiting, 
she recognised her master. She wished to know ; 
knowledge would come by him ; he would make this 
inner world speak, this world she bore within her- 
self l He, on his side, must have recognized in her, 
with sure and penetrating glance, the living, thril- 
ling soul he was seeking, to become the interpreter 
of his thoughts in the temple and instil therein a 
new spirit. No sooner had their eyes met, their lips 
spoken, than an invisible chain bound the sage of 
Samos to the young priestess, who listened to him 
without a word, drinking in his utterances with 
eager, attentive eyes. Some one has said that a 
profound vibration enables poet and lyre to re- 
cognize one another as they approach. Thus did 
Pythagoras and Theoclea recognize one another. 

At sunrise, Pythagoras had long conversations 
with the priests of Apollo, ordained saints and 
prophets. He requested that the young priestess 
should be received by them, so that he might 
initiate her into his secret teaching and prepare her 
for her mission. Accordingly she was permitted to 
follow* the lessons given daily in the sanctuary by 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


57 


the master. Pythagoras was now in the prime of 
life. He wore a white robe, girdled in Egyptian 
fashion ; a purple band was wrapped round his 
majestic brow. When he spoke, his grave, mild 
eyes were fastened on his interlocutor, enveloping 
him in a warm, tender light. The very atmosphere 
seemed to become lighter and electric* with intelli- 
gence. 

The conversations of the sage of Samos with the 
highest representatives of the Greek religion were 
of the utmost importance. It was not merely a 
question of divination and inspiration ; the future of 
Greece and the destiny of the whole world were at 
stake. The knowledge, titles, and powers he had 
acquired in the temples of Memphis and Babylon 
gave him the greatest authority and influence. To 
those who inspired Greece he had the right to speak 
as a superior and a guide. This he did with all the 
eloquence of his genius and the enthusiasm of his 
mission. To enlighten their minds, he began by 
telling them of his youthful days, his struggles and 
Egyptian initiation. He spoke to them of Egypt, 
the mother of Greece, old as the world itself, im- 
movable as a mummy, covered with hieroglyphs 
in the recesses of its pyramids, though possessing 
ln its tombs the secrets of peoples, languages, and 
religions. Before their eyes he unfolded the mys- 
teries of great Isis, goddess of earth and heaven, 



5 * 


PYTHAGORAS 


mother of gods and men ; then, relating his trials 
and ordeals, he plunged them, with himself, into 
the light of Osiris. Afterwards came the turn of 
Babylon, of the Chaldaean magi, their occult 
sciences, and those deep solid temples where they 
call forth the living fire, the abode of demons and 
gods. 

As she listened to Pythagoras, Theoclea passed 
through wonderful sensations. All he said was 
branded in letters of fire in her mind, These things 
appeared to her both marvellous and yt well 
known. Instead of hearing something new she 
seemed to be recalling what she had already 
learned. The master’s words set her turning over 
the pages of the universe like those of a book. No 
longer did she see the gods in their human image, 
but in their essence, forming things and spirits. 
With them she flowed in space, rising and falling. 
At times there came the illusion that she no longer 
felt the limits of her body, and was fading away 
into infinity. Thus her imagination entered by 
degrees into the invisible world, and the former 
traces she found of it in her own soul told her that 
this was the true and only reality ; the other was 
only apparent. She felt that her inner eyes would 
soon open and read the truth. 

From these heights the master suddenly brought 
her back to earth by relating the misfortunes of 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 


59 


Egypt. After developing the greatness of Egyp- 
tian science, he showed how it was dying away 
under the Persian invasion. He depicted the 
horrible atrocities committed by Cambyses, the 
pillaged temples, the sacred books committed to the 
flames, the priests of Osiris killed or dispersed, the 
monster of Persian despotism collecting beneath his 
iron hand all the old barbaric tribes of Asia, the 
half-savage nomad races of India, and the centre of 
the continent, awaiting only a favourable oppor- 
tunity to fall upon Europe. Yes, this ever-increas- 
ing cyclone must burst upon Greece as certainly as 
the thunderbolt, collecting in the sky, must flash 
forth from the cloud. Was divided Greece prepared 
to resist this terrible attack ? She did not even 
suspect it. Nations cannot avoid their destinies, 
which the gods precipitate upon them, unless they 
are ever watchful. Had not Egypt, that wise nation 
of Hermes, crumbled to ruin after six thousand 
years of prosperity ? Greece, alas 1 and beautiful 
Ionia would pass away even sooner 1 A time 
would come when the solar god would abandon 
this temple, when barbarian tribes would over- 
throw its very walls, and shepherds lead their flocks 
to pasture on the ruins of Delphi. 

Before such sinister prophecies the countenance 
of Theoclea became transformed, assuming a terri- 



6o 


PYTHAGORAS 


lied expression. She sank to the ground, and, with 
arms clasped round a column and eyes fixed as 
though plunged in thought, she resembled the 
genius of Grief weeping over the tomb of Greece. 

11 Those are secrets/ 1 continued Pythagoras, 
u which must be buried in the depths of the 
temples. The initiate attracts death or repels it 
at his pleasure. By forming the magic chain of 
wills, initiates in this way prolong the life of 
nations. It is for you to postpone the fatal hour, 
to cause Greece to shine in splendour and beam 
forth with the word of Apollo. Nations and peoples 
are what their gods make them, but the gods reveal 
themselves only to such as appeal to them. What 
is Apollo ? The word of the one God manifesting 
himself eternally in the world. Truth is the soul of 
God, his body is the light. Only seers, sages, and 
prophets behold it ; men see only its shadow. 
Legions of glorified spirits, whom we call heroes 
and demi-gods, inhabit this light in spheres beyond 
number. This is the real body of Apollo, the sun 
of initiates ; without his rays nothing great is done 
on earth. As the magnet attracts iron, so by our 
thoughts, our prayers, and actions do we attract 
divine inspiration. It is for you to hand over to 
Greece the word of Apollo, and Greece shall be 
resplendent with immortal light 1 ” 



THE TEMPLE OF DELPHI 61 

With such language Pythagoras succeeded in 
restoring to the priests of Delphi the consciousness 
of their mission. Theoclea drank in every word 
with silent, concentrated passion. She was visibly 
becoming transformed beneath the thought and will 
of the master as by a slow incantation. Standing 
in the midst of the astonished elders, slie untied her 
raven-black locks and thrust them back from her 
head as though she felt flames of fire playing in 
and about them. Her eyes, transfigured and wide 
open, seemed to behold the solar and planetary 
gods in their radiant, glowing orbs. 

One day she fell into a deep, lucid sleep. The 
five prophets surrounded her, but she remained 
insensible alike to their voice and touch. Pytha- 
goras drew near and said : u Rise and go where 
my thought sends thee. For now thou art the 
Pythoness ! " 

On hearing the master s voice, a long vibrating 
thrill ran through the whole of her body and she 
rose to her feet. Her eyes were closed, but she saw 
from within. 

" Where art thou ? ” asked Pythagoras. 

“ I am ascending ascending all the time*T 

“And now ? ” 

“ I am bathing in the light of Orpheus." 

u What seest thou in the future f ” 



62 


PYTHAGORAS 


a Great wars men of might Apollo 

returns to dwell in his sanctuary, and I shall be 

his voice ! But thou, his messenger, thou art 

about to leave me, alas 1 thou wilt bear the torch 
of his light into Italy.” 

Long did the seer speak, with closed eyes, in 
musical, panting, rhythmic voice ; then suddenly, 
with a sob, she fell to the ground like one dead. 

Thus did Pythagoras pour a pure, undefiled 
stream of knowledge into Theoclea's breast, tuning 
her like a lyre for divine inspiration. Onci exalted 
to these heights she became his torch, thanks to 
which he was able to sound his own destiny, see 
into the possible future, and direct his path along the 
strandless zones of the invisible. Such a striking 
counter-verification of the truths he taught filled the 
priests with admiration, aroused their courage and 
revived their faith. The temple now possessed an 
inspired Pythoness, and priests initiated into the 
divine sciences and arts ; Delphi could once again 
become a centre of life and action. 

Pythagoras remained there for a whole year. It 
was only after imparting to the priests all the 
setrets of his doctrine, and preparing Theoclea for 
his ministry, that he took his departure for Greater 
Greece. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 

The town of Croton was situated at the extremity 
of the Gulf of Tarentum, near the Lacinian promon- 
tory, in front of the open sea. Like Sybaris, it was 
one of the most flourishing cities in Southern Italy. 
It was famed for its Doric constitution, its vic- 
torious athletes at the Olympian games, and its 
doctors, rivals of the Asclepiads. The Sybarites 
owe their immortality to their luxury and effemi- 
nacy. The inhabitants of Croton would perhaps be 
forgotten, despite their virtues, had theirs not been 
the glory of offering a home to the great school of 
esoteric philosophy, known under the name of the 
Pythagorean sect, which may be looked upon as the 
mother of the school of Plato and the ancestor of all 
idealist schools. However noble the descendants, 
their ancestors greatly surpassed them. The school 
of Plato issues from an incomplete tradition, 
whereas the Stoic school has already lost the true 
tradition. Other systems of ancient and modern 
philosophy are more or less fortunate speculations, 

63 



64 PYTHAGORAS 

whilst the teaching of Pythagoras was based on 
experimental science and accompanied by a com- 
plete organization of life. 

The secrets of the master’s order and thought 
are now, like the ruins of the ancient town, buried 
deep underground. All the same we will try to 
resurrect them, for thus we shall have an oppor- 
tunity of penetrating to the very heart of the 
theosophic doctrine, the arcanum of religions and 
philosophies, and raising a corner of the veil of 
Isis to the light of Greek genius. 

Several reasons influenced Pythagoras in choos- 
ing this Dorian colony as a centre of action. His 
aim was not merely to teach the esoteric doctrine to 
a circle of chosen disciples, but also to apply its 
principles to the education of youth and to the life 
of the state. This plan comprised the foundation 
of an institution for laic initiation, with the object 
of finally transforming the political organization of 
the cities by degrees into the image of that philo- 
sophic and religious ideal. Certainly none of the 
republics of Hellas or of Peloponnesus would have 
tolerated this innovation. The philosopher would 
have been accused of conspiring against the State. 
The Greek towns of the Gulf of Tarentum, which 
were less preyed upon by demagogues, were more 
liberal-minded. Pythagoras made no mistake in 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 65 


expecting to find a favourable reception for his 
reforms at the hands of the Croton senate. His 
designs went also beyond Greece. Foreseeing the 
evolution of ideas, he was prepared for the fall 
of Hellenism, and was thinking of sowing in the 
human mind the principles of a scientific religion. 
By founding his school in the Gulf of Tarentum, 
he was spreading esoteric ideas throughout Italy, 
and keeping in the precious vase of his doctrine the 
purified essence of Oriental wisdom for the peoples 
of the West. 

On coming to Croton, which was at the time in- 
clined to adopt the voluptuous life of its neighbour 
Sybaris, Pythagoras produced a veritable revolu- 
tion. Porphyry and Iamblichus have depicted the 
commencement of his life there as being rather that 
of a magician than of a philosopher. Assembling 
the youth in the Temple of Apollo, he succeeded 
by his eloquence in tearing them away from a life 
of debauchery. Summoning the women to the 
Temple of Juno, he persuaded them to bring their 
golden robes and ornaments as trophies to celebrate 
the defeat of vanity and luxury. He threw a veil 
of grace over the austerity of his teachings, a com- 
municating flame flashed forth from his words of 
wisdom. His beautiful face and noble bearing, the 
charm of his countenance and of his voice com- 



66 


PYTHAGORAS 


pletely captivated them. The women compared 
him to Jupiter, the young men to Hyperborean 
Apollo. He captivated and seduced the crowds 
which, whilst listening to him, were greatly aston- 
ished to find themselves enamoured of truth and 
virtue. 

The senate of Croton, or the Council of the 
Thousand , grew uneasy at the influence he was 
obtaining. They summoned Pythagoras to explain 
his conduct, and to state the means he w|s making 
use of to master the minds of the citizens. This 
gave him an opportunity to develop his ideas on 
education, and demonstrate that, far from* threaten- 
ing with ruin the Doric constitution of Croton, they 
only strengthened it the more. When he had won 
over to his side the wealthiest of the citizens and the 
majority of the senate, he proposed that they should 
found an institute for himself and his disciples. 
This brotherhood of laic initiates should live in 
common in a building constructed for the purpose, 
though without separating themselves from civil 
life. Those of them who already deserved the 
name of master, might teach physical, psychic and 
religious sciences. Young men should be admitted 
to the lessons of the masters and to the different 
grades of initiation according to their intelligence 
or earnestness in study, under the control, <>f the 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 67 

head of the order. At the beginning, they must 
submit to the rules of the common life and spend 
the whole day in the institute, under the supervision 
of the masters. Those who should wish to enter the 
order formally were to give up their fortune to a 
trustee, with permission to enter again into posses- 
sion of it whenever they pleased. In the institute 
there would be a section for women, along with 
a parallel initiation, though different and more 
adapted to the duties of their sex. 

This plan was enthusiastically adopted by the 
senate of Croton, and, after a few years, near the 
entrance "to the town there rose a building sur- 
rounded by vast porticoes and beautiful gardens. 
The inhabitants of Croton called it the Temple of 
the Muses, and, to tell the truth, in the centre of the 
buildings, near the humble dwelling of the master, 
stood a temple dedicated to these divinities. 

Thus sprang into being the Pythagorean insti- 
tute, which became at one and the same time a 
college of education, a science academy, and a 
small model city under the control of a great 
initiate. It is by theory and practice, by science 
a nd art combined, that slow progress was made to 
that science of sciences, that magical harmony of 
s ^ul and intellect with the universe which Pytha- 
goreans looked upon as the arcanum of philosophy 



68 


PYTHAGORAS 


and religion. The Pythagorean school is of 
supreme interest for us, inasmuch as it was a most 
remarkable attempt at laic initiation. Being an 
anticipated synthesis of Hellenism and Christi- 
anity, it grafted the fruit of science on the tree of 
life, it acquired the knowledge of that inner, that 
living realization, of truth, which a profound faith 
alone can give. It was an ephemeral realization, 
though one of the greatest importance, instinct with 
the fruitfulness of example. ^ 

To form some idea of it, let us enter the Pytha- 
gorean institute along with the novice and follow 
his initiation step by step. 


THE TEST 

The white dwelling of the brother initiates was 
situated on a hill, surrounded by olive and cypress 
trees. On mounting from below, the porticoes, 
gardens, and gymnasium could distinctly be seen. 
The Temple of the Muses, with its circular colonnade 
of airy elegance, towered above the two wings of 
the building. The terrace of the outer gardens 
overlooked the town with its Prytaneum,its harbour 
and meeting-place. Away in the distance stretched 
the gulf, between sharp rugged parts of the coast 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 69 

as though in a cup of agate, whilst the Ionian sea 
shut in the horizon with its line of azure blue. At 
times one might see women clad in divers-coloured 
costumes issue on the left and make their way in 
long files down to the sea, along the alley of 
cypresses. They were going to worship at the 
Temple of Ceres. And on the right also, men 
might often be seen mounting in white robes to the 
Temple of Apollo. It was not the least attraction 
to the inquiring imagination of youth to think that 
the school of the initiates was placed under the pro- 
tection of these two divinities, one of whom, the 
Mighty Goddess, held the profound mysteries of 
Woman and of Earth, whilst the other, the Solar 
God, revealed those of Man and of Heaven. 

So we find this little city of the elect smiling 
down upon the populous town beneath. The noble 
instincts of youth were attracted by its peaceful 
serenity, though nothing was seen of what was 
taking place within, and it was generally known that 
admittance was not easily obtained. The gardens 
connected with the institute of Pythagoras were 
separated from the outside by nothing but a simple 
green hedge, and the entrance gate remained open 
all day long. A statue of Hermes, however, might 
be seen there, and on its pedestal were the words : 
Eskato Bebelot; No entrance for the profane 1 This 



PYTHAGORAS 


70 

commandment of the mysteries was universally 
respected. 

Pythagoras was very stern in admitting novices, 
saying, “ that not every kind of wood was fit for 
making a Mercury/' The young men who wished 
to enter the association were obliged to undergo a 
period of test and trial. On being introduced by 
their parents or by one of the masters, they were 
first of all permitted to enter the Pythagorean gym- 
nasium in which the novices played the*games 
appropriate to their age. The young man at once 
noticed that this gymnasium was unlike that in the 
town. There were no violent cries or noisy groups, 
no ridiculous boasting or vain display of strength 
by athletes in embryo, challenging one another and 
exhibiting their muscles ; but rather groups of cour- 
teous and distinguished-looking young men, walk- 
ing in couples beneath the porticoes or playing in 
the arena. They invited him with graceful sim- 
plicity to join in their conversation as though he 
were one of them, without greeting him with a sus- 
picious glance or jeering smile. In the arena they 
were racing, throwing quoits and javelins, and 
engaging in mock fights under the form of Doric 
dances. Pythagoras had, however, strictly abol- 
ished, wrestling, saying that it was superfluous and 
even dangerous to develop pride and hatred by 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 71 

strength and agility ; that men intended to practise 
the virtues of friendship ought not to begin by 
flinging one another on the ground and rolling in 
the sand like wild beasts ; that a real hero could 
fight with great courage though without fury ; that 
hatred makes us inferior to any opponent whoever 
he be. The new-comer heard these n^axims from 
the lips of the masters repeated by the novices, 
who were quite proud to impart their precocious 
wisdom. At the same time they encouraged him to 
state his own opinions and freely contradict them. 
Emboldened by such advances, the ingenuous 
aspirant quickly showed forth his real nature. 
Pleased at being listened to and admired, he would 
speak and dilate at his ease. Meanwhile the masters 
closely watched him without ever uttering the 
slightest word of reprimand. Pythagoras would 
come up unexpectedly and study his gestures and 
words. He paid special attention to the gait and 
the laugh of young men. Laughter, he said, is an 
infallible index to character, no amount of dis- 
simulation can render agreeable the laugh of an 
evil-disposed man. He had also made such a pro- 
found study of the human face that he could read 
therein the very depths of the soul . 1 

Such minute observation enabled the master to 

1 Origea states that Pythagoras was the inventor of physiognomy. 



72 


PYTHAGORAS 


form a precise idea regarding his future disciples. 
A few months afterwards came decisive tests in 
imitation of Egyptian initiation, though greatly 
modified and adapted to the Greek nature, whose 
sensitiveness had not submitted to the mortal 
terrors of the crypts of Memphis and Thebes. The 
Pythagorean aspirant was made to spend the night 
in a cavern, in the outskirts of the town, alleged to 
be haunted by various apparitions and monsters. 
Those who had not sufficient strength to endure the 
terrible impressions of solitude and night, who 
refused to enter or made their escape before the 
morning, were deemed too weak for initiation 
and rejected. 

Themoral test wasamore serious one. Suddenly, 
without the least preparation, the would-be disciple 
would one fine morning find himself imprisoned in 
an empty, dismal-looking cell. A slate was given 
him, and he was coldly ordered to discover the 
meaning of one of the Pythagorean symbols, as, for 
instance: What is the signification of the triangle 
inscribed in a circle ? or : Why is the dodecahedron, 
confined within the sphere, the symbol of the uni- 
verse ? He spent a dozen hours in his cell with his 
slate and the problem, and no other companion 
than a vase of water and a piece of dry bread. Then 
he was taken into a room to face the assembled 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 73 

novices. Under these circumstances the order had 
been passed round that they should ridicule without 
pity the wretched youth, who, hungry and sullen, 
stood before them like a culprit. “ So this is the 
new philosopher/' they would say. « How inspired 
he looks ! He will now tell us of his meditations. 
Do not conceal from us what you have* discovered. 
You will in the same way go through all the 
symbols in turn. A month of this regime and you 
will have become a great sage ! ” 

At this point the master would attentively observe 
the young man's attitude and expression. Irri- 
tated by his fast, overwhelmed with these sarcastic 
words, and humiliated at not being able to solve 
an incomprehensible problem, no small effort was 
needed to control himself. Some would weep with 
rage, others gave sarcastic replies, whilst others 
again, unable to control themselves, dashed their 
slate madly to the ground and burst out in impreca- 
tions against school, master, and disciples alike. 
Then Pythagoras came forward and calmly said 
that, as they had failed in the test of self-respect, 
they were begged not to return to a school of which 
they had so bad an opinion, in which friendship 
and respect for the masters should be the most 
elementary of virtues. The rejected candidate 
would shamefacedly retire and sometimes become a 



74 


PYTHAGORAS 


redoubtable enemy of the order, like the well-known 
Cylon who, later on, excited the people against the 
Pythagoreans and brought about their downfall. 
On the other hand, those who bore everything with 
lirmness, and gave just and witty replies to the pro- 
voking words they listened to, declaring they were 
ready to repeat tbe test a hundred times if only they 
could attain to the least degree of wisdom, were 
solemnly welcomed into the novitiate and received 
the enthusiastic congratulations of their new com- 
panions. 


FIRST DEGREE — PREPARATION 
The novitiate and the Pythagorean life 

Then only began the novitiate called the prepara- 
tion ( paraskeia ), which lasted at least two years, 
and might be prolonged to five. The novices, or 
listeners (< akousikoi ), during the lessons they re- 
ceived, were subjected to the rule of absolute 
silence. They had no right either to offer any 
objection to their masters or to discuss the teaching 
they were absorbing. This latter they were to 
receive with respect and to meditate upon at length. 
To impress this rule in the mind of the new listener, 
he was shown the statue of a woman, enveloped in 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 75 

a long veil, her fingers raised to her mouth, The 
Muse of Silence. 

Pythagoras did not regard youth as being capable 
of understanding the origin and the end of things. 
He thought that exercising them in logic and 
reasoning, before inculcating in them the meaning 
of truth, made them ignorant and assuming 
sophists. His idea was to develop in his pupils, 
before everything else, intuition, that primordial 
and superior faculty of mankind. To do this, he 
did not teach anything mysterious or difficult. 
Starting from natural sentiments, the first duties of 
man on entering life, he showed their relations with 
the laws of the universe. Whilst first of all incul- 
cating in youth parental love, he magnified this 
sentiment by assimilating the idea of father to that 
of God, the mighty creator of the universe. “ No- 
thing is more venerable/' he said, “ than the quality 
of fatherhood. Homer named Jupiter king of the 
gods, but in order to show forth all his greatness, 
he called him the Father of gods and men." He 
compared the mother to generous and beneficent 
Nature ; as heavenly Cybele produces the stars and 
Demeter gives birth to the fruits and flowers of the 
earth, so does the mother feed the child with every 
joy. Accordingly the son ought to honour in his 
father and mother the representatives, the earthly 



7 6 


PYTHAGORAS 


images, of these mighty divinities. He also showed 
that the love of fatherland comes from the affection 
one feels in childhood for one's mother. Parents 
are given to us, not by chance, as is commonly 
believed, but in accordance with a previous, a 
superior order, called Fortune or Necessity. To 
honour them is an obligation; but a friend must be 
chosen . The novices were invited to form them- 
selves into couples, according to their several 
affinities. The younger should seek in the elder 
the virtues he is himself aiming after, and the 
two companions should encourage each other 
towards a better life. “ A friend is another self ; 
he must be honoured as a god/' said the master. 
Though the Pythagorean rules imposed on the 
“listener" novice absolute submission to his 
masters, it gave him full liberty in enjoying the 
charms of friendship, it even made of this latter the 
stimulus of every virtue, the poetry of life, the path 
leading to the ideal. 

Individual energy was thus roused, morality be- 
came poetical and instinct with life, a rule lovingly 
accepted ceased to be a constraint, it became the 
very affirmation of an individuality. It was the 
wish of Pythagoras that obedience should be an 
assent and an approval. Besides this, the moral 
prepared the way for the philosophical teaching. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 77 

The relations set up between social duties and the 
harmonies of the Kosmos gave one a glimpse into 
the law of universal agreement and analogy. In 
this law dwells the principle of the Mysteries, of 
occult teaching and of the whole of philosophy. 
The mind of the pupil thus grew accustomed to 
find the impress of an invisible order on visible 
realities. General maxims and concise prescrip- 
tions opened out perspectives of this superior 
world. Morning and evening the Golden Verses 
rang in the pupil's ear : 

“ First worship the immortal Gods, as they are 
established and ordained by the Law. 

Reverence the Oath, and next the Heroes, full 
of goodness and light." 

In commenting on this maxim, it was shown that 
the gods, though apparently different, were really 
the same among all people, since they corresponded 
with the same intellectual and soul forces active 
throughout the universe. The sage could conse- 
quently honour the gods of his own country, whilst 
forming of their very essence a different idea from 
that generally held. Tolerance for every cult ; unity 
of people in one humanity ; unity of religions in 
esoteric science : these new ideas became vaguely 
outlined in the mind of the novice like glorious 





PYTHAGORAS 


divinities one might catch a glimpse of in the 
splendour of the setting sun. And the golden lyre 
continued its lofty teachings : 

u Honour likewise the terrestrial Daemons by 
rendering them the worship lawfully due to 
them." 

Besides these lines the novice saw beaming as 
through a veil the divine Psyche, the human soul. 
The heavenly pathway shone like a stream of light, 
for in the worship of heroes and demi-gods, the 
initiate saw the doctrine of the future rffe and the 
mystery of universal evolution. This secret was 
not revealed to the novice, but he was made ready 
for its understanding by being told of a hierarchy 
of beings superior to humanity, its guides and pro- 
tectors, called heroes and demi-gods. It was also 
stated that they served as intermediaries between 
man and divinity, that by their help he might step 
by step succeed in drawing nearer to them if he 
practised heroic and divine virtues. “ But how' 
could communication be obtained with these in- 
visible spirits ? Whence comes the soul ? Whither 
does it proceed ? Wherefore the sombre mystery 
of death ? ” The novice dared not formulate these 
questions in words, but his looks revealed them, 
and the only reply his masters gave him Was to 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 79 

point to the stragglers on earth, the statues in the 
temple, and the glorified souls in heaven, il in the 
fiery citadel of the god" to which Hercules had 
attained. 

At the foundation of the ancient mysteries, all the 
gods were included in the only supreme God. This 
revelation, including all its consequences, became 
the key of the Kosmos. This was the reason it 
was entirely reserved for initiation, properly so 
called. The novice knew nothing of this, he was 
only permitted to catch a faint glimpse of this truth 
from what he was told of the powers of Music and 
Number. u Numbers/' said the master, "contain 
the secret of things, and God is universal harmony." 
The seven sacred modes, built up on the seven 
notes of the heptachord, correspond to the seven 
colours of light, to the seven planets, arid to the 
seven modes of existence reproduced in all the 
spheres of material and spiritual life from the 
smallest to the greatest. The melodies of these 
modes when skilfully fused should tune the soul 
and make it sufficiently harmonious to vibrate in 
accord with the accents of truth. 

With this purification of the soul corresponded 
of necessity that of the body, which was obtained 
by means of hygiene and strict moral discipline. 
The first auty of initiation was to overcome one's 



8o 


PYTHAGORAS 


passions. He who has not harmonized his own 
being cannot reflect divine harmony. And yet the 
ideal of the Pythagorean life contained nothing of 
asceticism in it,' for marriage was looked upon as 
sacred. Chastity, however, was recommended to the 
novices, and moderation to the initiates, as being a 

4 

source of strength and perfection : il Only yield to 
voluptuousness when you consent to be less than 
yourself, 1 ” said the master. He added that volup- 
tuousness exists only in itself, comparing it “ to 
the song of the Sirens who disappear^ when one 
approaches them, to find in their place nothing but 
broken bones and bleeding flesh on a wave-beaten 
rock, whilst true joy is like the concert of the 
Muses, leaving celestial harmony behind in the 
soul." Pythagoras believed in the virtues of the 
woman initiate, he greatly mistrusted the untrained 
woman. On a disciple asking him when he might 
be permitted to approach a woman, he replied in 
ironical accents : u When you are tired of your 
peace of mind.” 

The Pythagorean day was spent in the following 
manner. As soon as the sun's glorious orb rose 
above the blue waves of the Ionian sea, gilding the 
columns of the Temple of the Muses, above the 
abode of the initiates, the young Pythagoreans 
chanted a hymn to Apollo, the while performing a 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 81 


sacred, dignified dance. After the obligatory ablu- 
tions, they proceeded in silence to the temple. Each 
awakening is a resurrection possessed of its flower 
of innocence. The soul must retire within itself at 
the beginning of the day and remain unsullied for 
the morning lesson. In the sacred wood, groups 
were formed round the master or his interpreters, 
and the lesson was given beneath the fragrance of 
the mighty trees or the shade of the porticoes. At 
noon, prayer was offered to the heroes and benevo- 
lent spirits. Esoteric tradition affirmed that good 
spirits preferred to approach the earth with the 
radiance of the sun, whilst evil spirits haunted the 
shades and filled the air when night came on. The 
frugal midday meal generally consisted of bread, 
honey, and olives. The afternoon was devoted to 
gymnastic exercises, then to study and meditation, 
afterwards to some mental work on the morning's 
lesson. After the sun had set, prayer w r as offered 
in common, a hymn sung to the gods of the Kos- 
mos, to heavenly Jupiter, to Minerva, Providence, 
and to Diana, guardian of the dead. Meanwhile 
storax, manna, or incense were burning on the altar 
in the open air, and the hymn,, mingling with the 
perfume, rose gently in the twilight, whilst the 
early stars pierced the pale azure sky. The day 
fended with the evening meal, after which the 

II. F 



82 


PYTHAGORAS 


youngest member read aloud, comments being 
made thereon by the eldest. 

Thus the day passed like a limpid spring, clear as 
a cloudless morn. The year was divided according 
to the great astronomical events. Thus the return 
of Hyperborean Apollo and the celebration of the 
Mysteries of Ceres saw novices rfhd initiates of 
every degree, both men and women, assembled to- 
gether. Young girls played on ivory lyres, married 
women, in purple and saffron-coloured cloaks, per- 
formed alternate choruses, accompanied by songs, 
along with the harmonious movements of strophe 
and antistrophe, imitated later on in tragedy. In 
the midst of these great fetes , at which a divine 
presence was manifested in grace of form and move- 
ment and the penetrating melody of the choruses, 
the novice was conscious of a kind of presentiment 
of occult forces, the all-powerful laws of the ani- 
mated universe, the deep, transparent heavens. 
Marriages and funeral rites were of a more intimate, 
but none the less solemn, character. There was 
one original ceremony, calculated to strike the 
imagination. When a novice, of his own accord, 
left the institute to take up once more the ordinary 
every-day life, or when a disciple had betrayed a 
secret of the doctrine, an occurrence which hap- 
pened only once, the initiates raised, a tomb for him 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 83 


in the consecrated precincts, as though he were 
dead. The master said : “ He is more dead than 
the dead, for he has returned to an evil life ; his 
body appears among men, but his soul is dead ; let 
us weep for it ! " This tomb erected to a living 
man, persecuted him like his own phanfom, like an 
evil omen. 0 

SECOND DEGREE — PURIFICATION 1 
Numbers — Theogony 

It was a happy day, u a day of gold/' as the 
ancients said, when Pythagoras received the novice 
into his dwelling and solemnly welcomed him into 
the rank of his disciples. First of all he entered into 
direct and connected relations with the master ; he 
came into the inner court of his dwelling reserved 
for his faithful followers. Hence the name of 
esoteric (tholfe from within) in opposition to that of 
exoteric (those from without). The real initiation 
now began. 

This revelation consisted of a complete, rational 
exposition of occult doctrine, from its principles as 
contained in the mysterious science of numbers to 
the final consequences of universal evolution, the 
destiny and end of divine Psyche, the human soul. 

1 Katharsis in Greek. 



84 PYTHAGORAS 

This science of numbers was known under different 
names in the temples of Egypt and Asia. As it 
afforded a key to the whole doctrine, it was care- 
fully concealed from the people. The figures and 
letters, the geometric forms and human representa- 
tions, whic/i served as signs in this algebra of the 
occult world, were understood by* none but the 
initiate. He divulged their meaning to the adepts 
only after receiving from them the oath of silence. 
Pythagoras formulated this science in a book he 
wrote with his own hand, called hterqp logos (the 
sacred word). This book has not come down to us, 
but we are acquainted with its principles from the 
subsequent writings of the Pythagoreans, Philo- 
laus, Archytas, and Hierocles, the dialogues of 
Plato, and the treatises of Porphyry and Iamblichus. 
The reason they have remained a dead letter for 
modern philosophers is that their meaning and 
bearing can only be understood by comparison with 
all the esoteric doctrines of the East. 

Pythagoras called his disciples mathematicians, 
because his higher teaching began by the doctrine 
of numbers. These sacred mathematics, however, 
orscience of principles, were both more transcendent 
and more living than profane mathematics, which 
alone are known to our savants and philosophers. 
In them Number was not regarded* as an abstract 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 85 

quantity but as the intrinsic and active virtue of 
the supreme One, of God the source of universal 
harmony. The science of numbers was that of 
the living forces, of the divine faculties in action in 
the universe and in man, in the macrocosm and in 

the microcosm. In examining them % distinguish- 

ing and explaining their working, Pythagoras was 
evolving nothing less than a rational theogony or 
theology. In a real theology we should look for the 
principles of every science ; it will be the science of 
God only if it shows the unity and concatenation of 
the sciences of nature. It deserves its name only on 
condition it constitutes the organ and the synthesis 
of all the rest. Now this is exactly the part played 
in the Egyptian temples by the science of the holy 
Word, formulated and made exact by Pythagoras 
under the name of the science of numbers. It 
claimed to supply the key of being, of science, and 
of life. The adept, under the guidance of his 
master, had to begin by contemplating its prin- 
ciples in the light of his own intelligence, before 
following its many applications in the concentric 
immensity of the spheres of evolution. 

A modern poet has had a presentiment of this 
truth in causing Faust to descend to the Mothers to 
restore life to the phantom of Helen. Faust seizes 
the magic key, the earth melts away beneath him, 



86 


PYTHAGORAS 


he becomes unconscious and plunges into the void 
of space. Finally he reaches the Mothers who keep 
watch over the first forms of the mighty All, and 
cause beings to issue from the mould of the arche- 
types. These Mothers are the Numbers of Pytha- 
goras, the diyine forces of the world. The poet has 
communicated to us the thrill of his own thought 
before this plunge into the abyss of the Unfathom- 
able. For the ancient initiate, in whom the direct 
view of intelligence was gradually aroused as 
though it were a new sense, this inner ^revelation 
seemed rather an ascent into the incandescent sun 
of Truth, whence he contemplated in the fulness of 
light the forms and beings thrown out in the whirl 
of lives by a vertiginous irradiation. 

He did not reach in a single day that inner pos- 
session of truth in which man realizes universal life 
by the concentration of his faculties. Years of 
training were needed, and that agreement, so diffi- 
cult to effect, of the intelligence and the will* 
Before using the creative word — and how few suc- 
ceed in this ! — one must spell out the sacred logos, 
letter by letter, syllable by syllable. 

Pythagoras was in the habit of giving this teach- 
ing in the Temple of the Muses. This temple had 

been built by the magistrates of Croton at his 

* t 

express request and according to his plans, m an 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 87 


enclosed garden near his abode. The disciples of 
the second degree came there alone with the master. 
Inside this circular temple were the marble statues 
of the nine Muses. Standing in the centre the 
solemn and mysterious Hestia, covered with a veil, 
kept watch. Her left hand afforded protection to 
the fire on the hearth, whilst with her right she 
pointed to heaven. Both Greeks and Romans looked 
upon Hestia, or Vesta, as the guardian of the divine 
principle present in all things. The soul of sacred 
fire, she has her altar in the temple of Delphi, at the 
Prytaneum of Athens, as well as on the humblest 
hearth. In the sanctuary of Pythagoras she sym- 
bolized divine and central Science, or Theogony. In 
a circle around her, the esoteric Muses bore, in 
addition to their traditional and mythological 
names, that of the occult sciences and sacred arts of 
which they had the guardianship. Urania presided 
over astrology and astronomy ; Polyhymnia over the 
science of souls in. the other life and the art of 
divination ; Melpomene , with her tragic mask, over 
the science of life and death, of transformations and 
re-births. These three superior Muses constituted 
together the cosmogony, or heavenly physics. 
Calliope , Clio, and Euterpe presided over the 
science of man, or psychology, with its correspond- 
ing arts, medicine, magic, and moral* philosophy. 



88 


PYTHAGORAS 


The last group, Terpsichore , Erato f and Thalia , 
embraced terrestrial physics, the science of 
elements, stones, plants, and animals. 

Thus at a glance the organism of the sciences, 
following that of the universe, appeared to the 
disciple*in the living circle of the Muses, illumined 
by the divine flame. 

After leading his disciples into this small 
sanctuary, Pythagoras opened the book of the 
Word, and began his esoteric teaching. 

“ These Muses/' he said, “ are only tjie earthly 
images of the divine powers whose immaterial and 
sublime beauty you will contemplate each one in 
himself. Just as they have their eyes fixed upon 
the fire # of Hestia, from which they spring and 
which gives them movement, rhythm, and melody 
— so you must plunge into the central fire of the 
universe, into the divine spirit, to mingle with it in 
its visible manifestations." Then with bold, power- 
ful hand, Pythagoras carried away his disciples 
from the world of forms and realities ; he effaced 
time and space and took them with him down into 
the great Monad , into the presence of the increate 
Being. 

Pythagoras called it the first One in which existed 
harmony, the masculine Fire traversing everything, 
the Spirit which moves by itself, the Indivisible and 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 89 

mighty non-Manifested of which the ephemeral 
worlds manifest the creative thought, the Only, the 
Eternal, the Unchangeable, concealed beneath the 
many things which pass away and change. 11 Es- 
sence in itself escapes man/' said Philolaus, the 
Pythagorean. 44 He knows only the things of this 
world in which the finite combines with the infinite. 
And how can he know them ? for between things 
and himself there is a harmony and relation, a 
common principle ; *and this principle is given them 
by the One who gives to them, along with their 
very essence, measure and intelligibility. It is 
the common measure between subject and object, 
the reason of things by which the soul participates 
in the final reason of the One,” 1 But how^an one 
approach It, the inconceivable Being ? Has any 
one ever seen the Master of time, the Soul of the 
suns, the Spring of intelligences ? No ; and it is 
only by mingling with it that one penetrates its 

1 In transcendent mathematics it is demonstrated algebraically that 
aero multiplied by infinity is equal to One. Zero, in the order of 
absolute things, signifies the indeterminate Being. The Infinite, the 
Eternal in the language of the temples, was marked by a circle of 
a serpent biting its tail, signifying the Infinite moving itself. Now, 
once the Infinite is determined it produces all the numbers it contains 
in its great unity, and which it governs in perfect harmony. 

Such is the transcendent meaning of the first problem of the Pytha- 
gorean theogony, the reason which brings it to pass that the great 
Monad contains all the small ones, and that all the numbers spring 
from the great Unity in movement. 



9 o 


PYTHAGORAS 


essence. It is like an invisible fire placed in the 
centre of the universe, its nimbje flame circulating 
throughout the worlds and moving the circum- 
ference. He added that it was the work of initia- 
tion to draw near the great Being, by resembling it, 
by making oneself as perfect as possible, dominat- 
ing things fey intelligence, thus becoming active 
like it, and not passive like them. u Is not your 
being, your soul, a microcosm, a small universe ? 
Still, it is full of storm and discord. Well, the 
thing to do is to realize therein unity inj harmony. 
Then and then only will God descend into your 
consciousness, and you will share in his power and 
make of your will the hearth-stone, the altar of 
Hestia,^the throne of Jupiter 1” 

God, the indivisible substance, has accordingly 
for number the Unity which contains the Infinite, 
for name, that of Father, Creator, or Eternal-Mas- 
culine, and for sign, the living Fire, symbol of the 
Spirit, essence of the Whole. This is the first of 
the principles. 

But the divine faculties are like the mystic lotus 
which the Egyptian initiate, lying in his tomb, sees 
emerging from the blackness of the night. At first 
it is only a shining spot, then it opens like a flower, 
and the glowing centre expands like the thousand 
leaves of a rose of light. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 91 

Pythagoras said that the great Monad acts as a 
creative Dyad . Immediately God manifests him- 
self, he is double ; indivisible essence and divisible 
substance ; active, animating, masculine ‘principle, 
and passive, feminine principle, or animated plastic 
matter. Accordingly the Dyad represented the 
union of the Eternal-Masculine and the Eternal- 
Feminine in God, the two essential and correspond- 
ing divine faculties. Orpheus had poetically 
expressed this idea in the line : 

Jupiter is the divine Bridegroom and Spouse. 

All polytheisms have intuitively been conscious 
of this idea, representing the Divinity under the 
masculine, sometimes under the feminine form. 

This living, eternal Nature, this mighty "Spouse 
of God, is not only the terrestrial but also the 
celestial nature, invisible to our eyes of flesh, the 
Soul of the world, the primordial Light, in turn 
Maia, Isis or Cybele, who, first vibrating beneath 
the divine impulse, contains the essences of all 
souls, the spiritual types of all beings. Then it is 
Demeter, the living earth, and all earths with the 
bodies they enfold in which these souls have come 
to be incarnated. Afterwards it is Woman, the 
companion of Man. In humanity Woman repre- 
sents Nature, and the perfect image of God is not 
Man alone, but Man and Woman. Hence their 



92 


PYTHAGORAS 


invincible and fascinating, their fatal attraction, the 
intoxication of Love, in which the dream of infinite 
creations has play, and the dim presentiment that 
the Eternal-Masculine and the Eternal-Feminine 
enjoy perfect union in the bosom of God. “Honour 
be to Woman, on earth as in heaven,” said Pytha- 
goras and all the initiates of old. u She enables us 
to understand that Mighty Woman, Nature. May 
she be the sanctified image of Nature and help us to 
mount gradually to that great Soul of the World 
which gives birth, preserves and renew!, to divine 
Cybele who bears along the people of souls in her 
mantle of light." 

The Monad represents the essence of God, the 
Dyad, his generative and reproductive faculty. The 
latter brings the world into being, the visible unfold- 
ing of God in time and space. Now the real world 
is trjple. For just as man is composed of three 
elements, which are distinct though blended in one 
another, body, soul, and spirit ; so the universe is 
divided into three concentric spheres : the natural, 
the human, and the divine world. The Triad or 
ternary law is accordingly the constitutive life of 
things and the real key to life. It is met with at 
every step on the ladder of life, from the constitu- 
tion of the organic cell through the physiological 
constitution of the animal body, the working of the 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 93 

blood and the cerebro-spinal systems, right on to the 
super-physical constitution of man, to that of the 
universe and of God. Thus, as by enchantment, it 
opens up to the amazed spirit the inner structure of 
the universe, shows the infinite correspondences of 
the microcosm and the macrocosm. It acts like a 
light, passing into things to make them\ransparent, 
lighting up small and great worlds like so many 
magic lanterns. 

Let us explain this law by the essential corre- 
spondence of man with the universe. 

Pythagoras affirmed that the mind of man, or the 
intellect, takes from God its immortal and invisible, 
its absolutely active, nature. For the mind is that 
which moves itself. He defined the body as being 
its mortal, divisible, and passive part, and thought 
that what we call soul is closely united to the mind, 
though formed of a third intermediate * element, 
coming from the cosmic fluid \ The soul, therefore, 
resembles an ethereal body which the spirit weaves 
and builds for itself. Without this ethereal body, 
the material body could not be purified, it would be 
only an inert and lifeless mass. 1 The soul possesses 
a form like that of the body it vivifies, and which 
it survives after dissolution or death. Then, as 

1 Doctrine identical with that of the initiate St. Paul, who ipeaksof 
the spiritual body. 



94 


PYTHAGORAS 


Pythagoras expresses it, in terms repeated by 
Plato, the subtile chariot either carries off the spirit 
to divine spheres or allows it to fall back into the 
dusky regions of matter, according as it is more or 
less good or bad. The constitution and evolution 
of man is repeated in ever-increasing circles over 
the whole scale of beings and in every sphere. Just 
as the human Psyche struggles between the spirit 
which attracts and the body which holds it back, 
so also humanity evolves between the natural and 
animal world into which it plunges by Asason of its 
earthly roots, and the divine W9rld of pure spirits, 
its heavenly source, towards which it aspires to rise. 
And what happens in humanity happens in all 
lands and solar systems in ever differing propor- 
tions, ever new modes. Extend the circle to infinity, 
and, if you can, form one single concept of the 
limitless worlds. What will you find there ? The 
creative thought, the astral fluid, and worlds in 
evolution: the spirit, soul, and body of divinity. 
Raising veil after veil and fathoming the faculties 
of this divinity itself, you will there see Triad and 
Duad clothing themselves in the dull depths of the 
Monad, like an efflorescence of stars in the abyss 
of immensity. 

From this rapid outline some estimate may be 
formed of the great importance Pythagoras attached 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 95 

to the ternary law, which may be said to form the 
corner-stone of esoteric science. All the mighty 
religious initiators have been conscious of it, every 
theosophist has had a presentiment of the same. 
An oracle of Zoroaster says as follows : 

The number three reigns everywhere in the universe, 

The Monad is its principle. * 

The incomparable merit of Pythagoras consists 
in having formulated it with all the clearness of 
Greek genius. He made of it the centre of his 
theogony and the foundation of the sciences. 
Already veiled in the exoteric writings of Plato, 
though altogether misunderstood by subsequent 
philosophers, this conception, in modern times, has 
been comprehended by only a few rare initiates of 
the occult sciences. 1 Henceforth may be seen what 
a broad and solid basis the law of the universal 
ternary offered to the classification of sciences, and 
to the building up of cosmogony and psychology. 

Just as the universal ternary is concentrated in 
the unity of God or in the Monad, so the human 
ternary is concentrated in the conscience of the ego 
and in the will which gathers together in its living 

1 In the first rank of these must be placed Fabre d’Olivert ( Vers 
(i°rh de Pythagore), This living conception of the forces of the 
universe, traversing it from top to bottom, has nothing to do with the 
the antithesis and the synthesis of Hegel, which are simply jeux 
<T esprit. 



PYTHAGORAS 


96 

unity all the faculties of bocly, soul, and spirit. The 
human and divine ternary, summed up in the 
Monad, constitutes the sacred Tetrad. But it is 
only relatively that man realizes his own unity. 
His will which acts over the whole of his being 
cannot, however, act fully and simultaneously in 
its three organs, i.e. in instinct, soul, and intellect. 
The universe and God hitnself appear to him only 
in turns, successively reflected by these three 
mirrors : — 1. Seen through instinct and the kaleido- 
scope of the senses, God is multiple aAd as infinite 
as his manifestations. H ence polytheism where the 
number of the gods is unlimited. — 2. Seen through 
the reasonable soul, God is double, i.e. matter and 
spirit. Hence the dualism of Zoroaster, the Mani- 
chaeans, and several other religions. — 3. Seen 
through pure intellect, he is threefold, i.e. spirit, 
soul and body in all the manifestations of the uni- 
verse. Hence the trinitarian cults of India (Brahma, 
Vishnu and Siva) and the trinity of Christianity 
(Father, Son and^oly Ghost). — 4. Conceived of by 
the will which sums up the whole, God is one, and 
we have the Hermetic monotheism of Moses in all 
its rigour. Here there is no longer personification 
or incarnation, we leave the visible universe and 
return to the Absolute. The Eternal alone rules 
over the world, now reduced to dust. The diversity 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 97 

of religions, accordingly, comes from the fact that 
man realizes divinity only through his own being 
which is relative and finite, whilst God is continu- 
ally realizing the unity of the three worlds in the 
harmony of the universe. 

This final application would alone Remonstrate 
the — in some way — magic virtue of the Tetra - 
gram in the order of ideas. In it was found not 
only the principles of the sciences, the law of beings 
and their mode of evolution, but also the very 
reason of the different religions and their superior 
unity. This was in reality the universal key. 
Hence the enthusiasm with which Lysis speaks of 
it in the Golden Verses ; one can now understand 
why the Pythagoreans swore by this great symbol : 

u I swear it by him who has transmitted into 
our souls the Sacred Quaternion, the source 
of nature, whose cause is eternal/' 

Pythagoras carried a great deal farther the teach- 
ing of numbers. In each of them he defined a 
principle, a law, an active force of the universe. 
He said, however, that the essential principles are 
contained in the first four numbers, since all the 
others are formed by adding or multiplying them. 
In the same way the infinite variety of beings com- 
posing the universe is produced by the combina- 
II. G 



PYTHAGORAS 


98 

tions of the three primordial forces : matter, soul, 
spirit, under the creating impulse of the divine 
unity which mingles and differentiates, concen- 
trates and separates. Along with the chief masters 
of esoteric science Pythagoras attached great im- 
portance tp the numbers seven and ten. Seven, 
the compound of three and four, signifies the union 
of man and divinity. It is the figure of the adepts, 
of the great initiates, and, since it expresses the 
complete realization in all things through seven 
degrees, it represents the law of evolution. The 
number ten formed by the addition of the first four 
numbers, and containing the former number, is the 
perfect number, par excellence , for it represents all 
the principles of divinity, evolved and re-united in 
a new unity. 

On finishing the teaching of his theogony, 
Pythagoras showed his disciples the nine Muses, 
personifying the sciences, grouped three by three, 
presiding over the triple ternary evolved in nine 
worlds, and forming, along with Hestia, the divine 
science, guardian of the primordial Fir o—ihe sacred 
Decad. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE* 99 


THIRD DEGREE — PERFECTION 1 

Cosmogony and psychology — The evolution 
of the soul 

The disciple had received the principles of science 
from his master. This first initiation had dispelled 
the dense scales of matter which covered the eyes of 
his spirit. Tearing away the shining veil of myth- 
ology, it had removed him from the visible world to 
cast him blindly into boundless space and plunge 
him into the sun of Intelligence, whence Truth 
beams forth over the three worlds. The science of 
numbers, however, was nothing but the beginning 
of the great initiation. Armed with these prin- 
ciples, he had now t 3 descend the heights of the 
Absolute and plunge into the depths of nature, 
there to lay hold of the divine thought in the forma- 
tion of things and the evolution of the soul through 
the worlds. Esoteric cosmogony and psychology 
touched the greatest mysteries of life as well as 
dangerous and jealously-guarded secrets of the 
occult arts and sciences. 

For this reason Pythagoras loved to give these 
lessons, when the profane light of day had dis- 
appeared, at night, by the sea-side, on the terraces of 


1 In Greek: TeltUku 



IOO 


PYTHAGORAS 


the Temple of Ceres, before the gentle murmur of 
the Ionian sea with its melodious cadence, and 
beneath the distant phosphorescence of the starry 
Kosmos; or else in the crypts of the sanctuary 
where a gentle steady light was given by Egyptian 
lamps of naphtha. Female initiates were present at 
these night meetings. At times, priests or priest- 
esses from Delphi or Eleusis came to confirm the 
master's teachings by relating their experiences or 
through the lucid words of clairvoyant ^leep. 

The material and the spiritual evolution of the 
world are two inverse movements, though parallel 
and concordant along the whole scale of being. 
The one can be explained only by the other, 
and, considered together, they explain the world. 
Material evolution represenfs the manifestation of 
God in matter by the soul of the world which works 
out matter. Spiritual evolution represents the work- 
ing out of consciousness in the individual monads 
and their attempts, through the cycle of lives, to 
rejoin the divine spirit from which they emanate. 
To see the universe from the physical or from the 
spiritual point of view is not considering something 
different, it is looking at the world by the two 
opposite ends. From the terrestrial point of view, 
the rational explanation of the world ought to begin 
by material evolution, for it is this side of it which 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE ioi 


appears to us, but by enabling us to see the work of 
the universal spirit in matter and to follow up the 
development of the individual monads, it insensibly 
leads on to the spiritual point of view and causes us 
to pass from the without to the within of things, 
from the reverse of the world to its face side. 

t 

This, at any rate, was the procedure of Pytha- 
goras, who regarded the universe as a living being, 
animated by a great soul and filled with a mighty 
intelligence. The second part of his teaching began 
with the cosmogony. 

If we relied on the divisions of the heavens 
we find in the exoteric fragments of the Pytha- 
goreans, this astronomy would be similar to that of 
Ptolemy ; the earth motionless and the sun with the 
planets and the whole of the firmament turning 
round it. The very principle of this astronomy, 
however, warns us that it is purely symbolical. In 
the centre of his universe Pythagoras places Fire (of 
which the sun is only a reflection). Now in the 
whole of Eastern esoterism, Fire is the representa- 
tive sign of Spirit, of divine, universal Conscious- 
ness. What our philosophers generally take as 
the natural philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato is 
accordingly nothing else than an imaged descrip- 
tion of their secret philosophy, clear and light- 
giving to initiates, but all the more impenetrable 



102 


PYTHAGORAS 


by the mass of pefiple as it was considered to be 
simple natural philosophy. We must consequently 
seek therein a kind of cosmography of the life of 
souls and nothing else. The sublunary region 
designates the sphere in which terrestrial attraction 
operates and is called the circle of generation. 
Initiates mean by this that for us the earth is the 
region of corporeal life. Here take place all the 
operations accompanying the incarnation and dis- 
incarnation of souls. The sphere of the six planets 
and of the sun responds to ascending categories of 
spirits. Olympus, conceived as a rolling sphere, 
is called the heaven of the stationary, because it is 
assimilated to the sphere of perfect souls. This 
infantile astronomy accordingly masks a concep- 
tion of the spiritual universe. 

Everything, nevertheless, inclines us to believe 
that the initiates of old, and especially Pythagoras, 
had far more correct notions of the physical 
universe. Aristotle positively affirms that the 
Pythagoreans believed in the movement of the 
earth around the sun. Copernicus asserts that the 
idea of the rotation of the earth on its axis came 
to him whilst reading, in Cicero, that a certain 
Hycetas of Syracuse had spoken of the daily 
motion of the earth. Pythagoras taught the double 
movement of the earth to his disciples of the third 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 103 

degree. Without having the exact measurements 
of modern science, he knew, as did the priests of 
Memphis, that the planets which come from the 
sun turn around it ; that the stars are so many solar 
systems governed by the same laws as ours, and 
, that 'each has its place in the immense universe. 
He also knew that each solar world f6rms a small 
universe which has its correspondence in the 
spiritual world and its own heaven. The planets 
served to mark the scale thereof. Still, these 
notions which would have overthrown popular 
mythology, and would have been set down by the 
people as sacrilegious, were never entrusted to 
popular writing. They were taught only under 
the seal of profound secrecy. 1 

The visible universe, said Pythagoras, the 

1 Certain atrange definitions, in metaphorical form, which have been 
handed down to us and come from the secret teaching of the master, 
give us some idea, in their occult signification, of the magnificent con- 
ception Pythagoras had of the Kosmos. Speaking of the constellations, 
he called the Great and the Little Bear the hands of Rhea-Kybele. 
Now Rhea-Kybele means, esoterically, the rolling astral light, the 
divine spouse of universal fire, or of the creative Spirit, which, becom- 
ing concentrated in the solar systems, attracts the immaterial essences 
of beings, seises them, and forces them into the whirl of lives. He 
called the planets the dogs of Proserpine. This strange expression 
has only an esoteric meaning. Proserpine, the goddess of souls, 
presided over their incarnation in matter. Pythagoras accordingly 
called the planets the dogs of Proserpine because they keep and retain 
the incarnated souls, just a* the mythological Cerberus guards the souls 
in the infernal regions. 



104 


PYTHAGORAS 


heavens with all their stars, are only a passing form 
of the soul of the world, of the great Maia who 
concentrates the scattered matter in the infinitudes 
of space and then dissolves it and scatters it in 
an imponderable cosmic fluid. Each solar vortex 
possesses a fragment of this universal soul, which* 
evolves in its bosom for millions of centuries with a 
special force of impulse and measure. As regards 
the powers and kingdoms, the species and the 
living souls which appear successively in^the con- 
stellations of this little world, they come from God, 
descending from the Father ; that is to say, they 
emanate from an immutable and superior spiritual 
order, as well as from a former material evolution, 

I mean an extinct solar system. Of these invisible 
powers, some, which are altogether immortal, direct 
the formation of this world, the others await its 
unfolding in cosmic sleep or in divine dream, to 
return into visible generations, according to their 
rank and in obedience to eternal law. All the same, 
the solar soul and its central fire, moved directly 
by the great Monad, works the matter into a state 
of fusion. The planets are daughters of the sun. 
Each of them, elaborated by the forces of attrac- 
tion and rotation inherent in matter, is endowed with 
a semi-conscious soul issuing frpm the solar soul ; it 
has its distinct character, its special rOl$ in evolu- 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 105 

tion. As each planet is a different expression of 
the thought of God, as it exercises a special func- 
tion in the planetary chain, the ancient sages have 
identified the names of the planets with those of 
the great gods who represent the divine faculties in 
action in the universe. 

The four elements , of which the constellations 
and all beings are formed, designate four graduated 
states of matter. The first, being the densest, is the 
one most refractory to spirit ; the last, being the 
most refined, shows great affinity for spirit. Earth % 
represents the solid state ; water , the liquid state ; 
air, the gaseous state, and fire, the imponderable 
state. The fifth, the etheric element, represents a 
state of matter so fine and vivid that it is no longer 
atomic, and possesses the property of universal 
penetration. It is the original, cosmic fluid, the 
astral light or soul of the world. 

Afterwards Pythagoras spoke to his disciples of 
the earth's revolutions, according to the traditions 
of Egypt and Asia. He knew that the earth, in a 
state of fusion, was first surrounded by a gaseous 
atmosphere which, becoming liquefied by succes- 
sive coolings, had formed the seas. As was his 
wont, he summed up this idea metaphorically by 
saying that the seas were produced by the tears of 
Saturn (cosmic time). 



106 PYTHAGORAS 

And now the kingdoms appear, and invisible 
germs, floating in the ethereal aura of the earth, 
whirl about in its gaseous robe and are then at- 
tracted to the deep bosom of the ocean and over 
the first continents that pierce their way to the sur- 
face. The vegetable and animal worlds, still in 
confusion, appear almost at the same time. Esoteric 
teachings admit of the transformation of animal 
species, not only in accordance with the secondary 
law of selection, but also by the primary Jaw of the 
percussion of the earth by celestial powers, and of 
all living beings by intelligible principles and in- 
visible forces. When a new species appears on the 
globe, the reason is that a race of souls of a superior 
type is being incarnated at a given epoch in the 
descendants of the former species, to cause it to 
mount a step in the ladder of evolution by moulding 
it afresh and transforming it into its image. Thus 
the esoteric doctrine explains the appearance of man 
on earth. From the point of view of terrestrial 
evolution, man is the latest branch, the crown of all 
the former species. But this point of vi£w is no 
more sufficient to explain his entrance on to the 
stage of life, than it would be to explain the appear- 
ance of the first sea-weed or the first crustacean in 
the depths of the sea. All these successive crea- 
tions infer, as does each birth, the percussion of the 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 107 

earth by the invisible powers which create life. 
That of man infers the previous reign of a celestial 
humanity presiding over the unfolding of terrestrial 
humanity, and sends it, like the waves of a formid- 
able tide, fresh torrents of souls which become in- 
carnate in its womb and cause to shine forth the 
first beams of a divine light in that bold, impulsive, 
terrified being who, though only just freed from the 
darkness of animality, is forced, in order to live, to 
struggle with all the powers of nature. 

Pythagoras had obtained in Egyptian temples 
clear notions as to the mighty revolutions of the 
globe. The Indian and Egyptian teachings spoke 
of the existence of the ancient austral continent 
which had produced the red race and a powerful 
civilization, called by the Greeks, the Atlantides. 
They attributed the alternate emergence and im- 
mersion of continents to the oscillation of the poles 
and acknowledge^ that humanity had thus passed 
through six deluges. Each interdiluvian cycle 
brings about the predominance of a great human 
race. In the midst of the partial eclipses of civiliza- 
tion and human faculties, there is a general ascend- 
ing movement. 

Here we have humanity constituted and the races 
launched in their career through the cataclysms of 
he globe. But on this globe which, at birth, we 



io8 


PYTHAGORAS 


take as being the immutable base of the world and 
which itself is carried along floating in space, on 
these continents which emerge from the seas to 
disappear afresh, amid these passing peoples, these 
crumbling civilizations, what is the mighty and 
poignant, the eternal mystery ? This is the great 
inner problem, that of each and all, the problem of 
the soul which discovers in itself an abyss of dark- 
ness and light, regarding itself with a mixture of 
delight and terror and saying to itself : I am not 
of this world, for it is not sufficient to explain me. 
I do not come from earth, and I am going else- 
where. Where ? " That is the mystery of Psyche, 
the mystery containing all the rest. 

The cosmogony of the visible world, said Pytha- 
goras, has led us to the history of the earth, and 
the latter to the mystery of the human soul. With 
it we touch the sanctuary of sanctuaries, the holy 
of holies. Once its consciousne^ aroused, the soul 
becomes for itself the most astonishing of sights. 
But even this consciousness is only the enlightened 
surface of its being, in which it suspects there to 
be dark and unfathomable abysses. In its un- 
known depths, the divine Psyche contemplates with 
fascinated look all lives and worlds, past, and 
present, and the future joined to them by Eternity. 
14 Know thyself, and thou shalt know the universe 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 109 


of the gods." Such was the secret of the sages 
and initiates. To penetrate through this narrow 
door into the immensity of the invisible universe, 
let us awake in ourselves direct vision of the 
purified soul, and arm ourselves with the torch of 
intelligence, with the science of the sacred prin- 
ciples and numbers. 

Pythagoras thus passed from physical cos- 
mogony to spiritual cosmogony. After the evo- 
lution of the earth, he told of that of the soul 
through the different worlds. Outside of initia- 
tion, this doctrine is known under the name of 
transmigration of souls . Regarding no part of 
secret doctrine has there been more false reasoning 
than here, to such an extent indeed that ancient 
and modern literature are acquainted with it only 
through puerile travesties. Plato himself, who 
more than any other philosopher contributed to 
the popularizing pf the doctrine, has only given 
fantastic and at times extravagant glimpses of it, 
either because prudence or his oath of secrecy 
prevented him from telling all he knew. Few now 
doubt the fact that it must have had for initiates 
a scientific aspect, opening up endless perspectives 
and affording divine consolation to the soul. The 
doctrine of the ascensional life of the soul through 
scries of existences is the common feature of 



no 


PYTHAGORAS 


esoteric traditions and the crown of theosophy. 1 
will add that it is of the utmost importance to us. 
For the man of the present day rejects with equal 
scorn the abstract and vague immortality of 
philosophy and the childish heaven of an infant 
religion. £nd yet he abhors the dryness and 
nothingness of materialism. Unconsciously he 
aspires to the consciousness of an organic immor- 
tality responding at once to the demands of his 
reason and the indestructible needs &f his soul. 
Besides, it can well be understood why the initiates 
of the ancient religions, though they were ac- 
quainted with these truths, kept them so secret. 
They are of a nature to turn the minds of those 
untrained to receive them. They are closely allied 
to the profound mysteries of spiritual generation, 
of sex and generation by flesh, on which hang the 
destinies of future humanity. 

It was therefore with a kind of dread that the 
supreme hour for this esoteric teaching was 
awaited. Through the words of Pythagoras, as 
by some slow incantation, heavy matter seemed to 
lose its weight, the things of earth became trans- 
parent, those of heaven visible to the spirit. Golden 
and azure spheres, furrowed wfth luminous essence, 
unfolded their orbs right into the infinitudes of 
space. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE hi 


The disciples, both men and women, grouped 
round the master in a subterranean part of the 
Temple of Ceres called the crypt of Proserpine, 
listened with throbbing emotions to the celestial 
history of Psyche . 

What is the human soul ? A portion of the 
mighty soul of the world, a spark of the divine 
spirit, an immortal monad. Still, though its 
possible future opens out into the unfathomable 
splendours of divine consciousness, its mysterious 
dawn dates back to the origin of organized matter. 
To become what it is in present-day humanity, it 
must have passed through all the reigns of nature, 
the whole scale of beings gradually developing 
through a series of innumerable existences. The 
spirit which fashions the worlds and condenses 
cosmic matter into enormous masses manifests itself 
with varying intensity and an ever greater con- 
centration in the successive reigns of nature. A 
blind and confused force in the mineral, individual- 
ized in the plant, polarized in the sensations and 
instincts of animals, it stretches towards the con- 
scious monad in this slow elaboration; and the 
elementary monad is visible in the most inferior of 
animals. The animal and spiritual element accord- 
ingly exists in every kingdom, though only in 
infinitesimal quantities in the lower kingdoms. 



1 1 2 


PYTHAGORAS 


The souls which exist in the state of germs in the 
lower kingdoms stay there without moving away 
for immense periods of time, and it is only after 
great cosmic revolutions that, in changing planets, 
they pass to a higher reign. All they can do 
during a planet's period of life is to mount a few 
degrees. Where does the monad begin ? As well 
ask at what hour a nebula was formed or a sun 
shone for the first time. Anyhow, what consti- 
tutes the essence of any man must haveJevolved for 
millions of years through a chain of lower planets 
and kingdoms, keeping through all these existences 
an individual principle which follows it everywhere. 
This obscure but indestructible individuality con- 
stitutes the divine seal of the monad in which God 
wills to manifest Himself through consciousness. 

The higher one ascends in the series of organ- 
isms, the more the monad develops the principles 
latent in it. Polarized force becomes capable of 
sensation, capacity of sensation becomes instinct, 
and instinct becomes intelligence. In propor-^ 
tion as the flickering flame of consciousness is lit, 
this soul becomes more independent of the body, 
more capable of existing freely. The fluid, non- 
polarized soul of minerals and vegetables is bound 
to the elements of earth. That of animals, strongly 
attracted by terrestrial fire, stays there for some 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 113 

V' 

time after leaving its body, and then returns to the 
surface of the globe to re-incarnate in its species 
without ever having the possibility of leaving the 
lower layers of the air. These are peopled with 
elementals or animal souls which play their part 
in atmospheric life and have a great occult in- 
fluence over man. The human soul alone comes 
from the sky, and returns there after death. At 
what period of its long cosmic existence has the 
elementary become the human soul ? Through 
what incandescent crucible, what ethereal flame has 
it passed ? The transformation has been possible 
in an interplanetary period only by the meeting 
of human souls already fully formed which have 
developed in the elementary soul its spiritual prin- 
ciple and have impressed their divine prototype 
like a seal of fire in its plastic substance. 

But what journeys and incarnations, what 
plknetary cycles must still be traversed for the 
human soul thus formed to become the man we 
are acquainted with ! According to the esoteric 
traditions of India and Egypt, the individuals of 
whom mankind at present consists, began their 
human existence on other planets, in which matter 
is far less dense than our own. Man's body was 
then almost vaporous, his incarnations light and 

e *sy. His faculties of direct spiritual perception 
II. H 



PYTHAGORAS 


114 

were evidently very powerful and subtile in this 
first human phase ; reason and intelligence on the 
other hand were in an embryonic condition. In this 
half-corporeal, half-spiritual state, man saw spirits, 
everything was full of splendour and charm to his 
eyes, full of music to his ears. He could hear the 
harmony of the spheres. He neither thought nor 
reflected, scarcely even willed, but simply lived, 
drinking in sounds, forms and light, floating like a 
dream from life to death and from death to life. It 
was this that the Orphic poems called the heaven 
of Saturn. It is only by becoming incarnate on 
planets ever denser and denser that man became 
materialized, according to the doctrine of Hermes. 
By becoming incarnate in denser matter, humanity 
has lost its spiritual sense, but by an ever-increas- 
ing struggle with the outside world, it has power- 
fully developed its reason, intelligence and will. 
The earth is the last rung of this descent into 
matter which Moses calls the exit from paradise, 
and Orpheus, the fall into the sublunary circle. 
From these depths man can, with difficulty, re- 
ascend the circles in a series of new existences and 
regain his spiritual faculties by the free exercise of 
his intellect and will-power. Then only, say the 
disciples of Hermes and Orpheus, does man acquire 
by his action the consciousness and the possession 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 115 

of the divine ; then only does he become the son oj 
God , Those who have borne this name on earth 
must, before appearing among us, have descended 
and remounted to the dreadful spiral. 

Then what is the humble Psyche at its origin ? 
A passing breath, a floating germ, a ,wind-swept 
bird, migrating from life to life. And yet, after 
innumerable lapses, and millions of years, it has 
become the daughter of God and no longer recog- 
nizes any other home than heaven 1 This is why 
Greek poetry, so profound and luminous in its 
symbolism, compared the soul sometimes to the 
winged insect, sometimes to the earth-worm, and 
again to the heavenly butterfly. How often has it 
been a chrysalis, and how often a winged creature 
of light ? Though it will never know this, it still 
feels that it has wings 1 

Such is the vertiginous past of the human soul. 
It affords us an explanation of its present condition 
and enables us to glimpse into its future. 

What is the position of divine Psyche in earth 
life? The slightest reflection suffices to show us that 
we could not imagine a stranger or more tragic one, 
since being painfully roused to consciousness in 
the dense atmosphere of earth, the soul has entwined 
itself in the folds of the body* Only through it does 
the soul live, breathe, and think, and yet it is not the 



1 1 6 PYTHAGORAS 

body, In proportion as it develops, it feels in- 
creasing within itself a quivering light, something 
invisible and immaterial which it calls its spirit, its 
conscience. Yes, man has an innate sentiment of 
his triple nature, for, even in his instinctive lan- 
guage, he extinguishes his body from his soul, and 
his soul from his spirit. The soul, however, captive 
and troubled, struggles between its two companions 
as between the thousand twining folds of a serpent 
and an invisible genius calling it, whose presence, 
however, can only be felt by passing gleams and 
the beating of his wings. At times this body 
absorbs it to such an extent that it is only through 
its passions and sensations that the soul lives ; with 
the body it rolls in the blood-stained orgies of anger 
or the denser mist of carnal pleasure, until, of its 
own accord, it becomes terrified by reason of the 
profound silence of its invisible companion. Then 
again, attracted by the latter, it rises to such lofty 
heights of thought, that it forgets the existence of 
the body until a peremptory call reminds it of its 
presence. And yet an inner voice tells it that 
between itself and the invisible guest the bond 
cannot be broken, whilst death will break its con- 
nection with the body. 

Tossed to and fro between the two in an eternal 
struggle, the soul seeks in vain for happiness and 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 117 

truth. In vain does it seek to find itself in pass- 
ing sensations, in fugitive thoughts, in the world 
which changes like a mirage. Finding that no- 
thing is lasting, troubled and driven about like 
a leaf in the wind, it has doubts of itself and of 
a divine world which is only revealed* to it by its 
own pain and the impossibility it feels of reaching 
this world. Human ignorance is written in the 
contradictions of pretended sages, and human sad- 
ness in the unfathomable hunger of the human 
glance. Finally, whatever the range of his know- 
ledge, birth and death shut in man between two 
fatal bounds. These are two gates of darkness, 
beyond which he sees nothing. The flame of his 
life is lit as he enters the one and extinguished as 
he leaves the other. Can it be so with the soul ? 
If not, then what becomes of it ? 

Many have been the replies which philosophers 
have given to this poignant problem. In its essence 
that given by theosophical initiates of all times is 
the same. It is in accord with universal feeling 
and the inner spirit of religions. The latter has 
expressed *the truth only under superstitious or 
symbolical forms. The esoteric doctrine opens up 
far wider perspectives \ its affirmations are strictly 
related to the laws of universal evolution. This is 
what initiates, instructed by tradition and by the 



n8 PYTHAGORAS 

many experiences of psychic life, have said to man : 
That which is restless in thyself, which thou callest 
thy soul, is an ethereal double of the body which 
contains in itself an immortal spirit. The spirit 
builds and forms for itself, by its own activity, 
its spiritual,, body. Pythagoras calls it the subtile 
chariot of the soul, because it is destined to remove 
it from earth after death. This spiritual body is 
the organ of the spirit, its sensitive envelope and in- 
strument of volition ; it serves to animate the body, 
which would otherwise remain inert. ^In appari- 
tions of the dyipg or the dead, this double becomes 
visible, under circumstances, however, which always 
presuppose a special nervous condition of the seer. 
The degree of fineness, power and perfection of 
the spiritual body varies according to the quality of 
the spirit which it contains, and between the sub- 
stance of souls woven in the astral light, though 
impregnated with the imponderable Quids of earth 
and heaven, there are more numerous distinctions, 
greater differences than between all earthly bodies 
and all states of ponderable matter. This astral 
body, though far finer and more perfect than the 
earthly one, is not immortal as is the monad which 
it contains. It changes and becomes purified ac- 
cording to its different environments. The spirit 
is perpetually moulding and transforming it into 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 119 

its own image ; it never leaves it however, though 
it unrobes itself of it by degrees ; it is continually 
clothing itself with more ethereal substances. This 
was the teaching of Pythagoras, who could not 
conceive of abstract spiritual entity, the formless 
monad. Spirit in itself, whether in the far-away 
sky or on earth, must have an organ ; that organ 
is the living sou!, whether bestial or sublime, 
obscure or radiant, retaining, however, the human 
form, the image of God. 

What happens at death ? When the final hour 
approaches, the soul generally has a presentiment 
of its coming separation from the body. It sees 
over again its earthly existence in abridged scenes 
rapidly succeeding one another and of startling 
clearness. When the exhausted life stops in the 
brain, the soul becomes perplexed and altogether 
loses consciousness. If it is holy and pure, its 
spiritual senses have already been aroused by 
gradual detachment from matter. Before dying, 
in some way or other, if only by the introspection 
of its own state, it has already felt the presence 
of another world. Beneath the silent, distant 
appeals, the vague beams of the Invisible, earth 
has already lost its consistence, and when the soul 
finally leaves the cold corpse, rejoicing in its de- 
liverance, it feels itself carried away into a glorious 



120 


PYTHAGORAS 


light, towards the spiritual family to which it 
belongs. It is not so, however, with the ordinary 
man, whose life has been divided between material 
instincts and higher aspirations. He awakes in a 
state of semi-consciousness, as though in the torpor 
of a nightmare. No longer has he an arm to 
stretch forth or a voice to cry out with ; still, he 
remembers and suffers, existing, as he does, in a 
limbus of darkness and terror. All that he sees 
is the body from which he is detached, but for 
which he still feels an invincible attraction. It is 
for it that he lived ; and now, what is it ?** In terror 
he looks for himself in the icy fibres of his brain, 
in the stagnant blood of his veins, and no longer 
finds himself. . Is he dead or living ? He would like 
to see, to hold on to something, but he cannot see, 
he can take hold of nothing. Darkness is all around, 
chaos within. He sees only one thing, and this 
thing attracts and terrifies him at the same time — 
the sinister phosphorescence of his own earthly 
tenement : and the nightmare recommences. 

This state may be prolonged for months or years. 
Its duration depends on the strength of the material 
instincts of the soul. Still, good or evil, infernal or 
celestial, this soul will gradually become conscious 
of itself and of its new condition. Once free from 
its body, it will escape into the abysses of the 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 121 


terrestrial atmosphere, whose electric streams carry 
it here and there, and whose many-shaped inhabi- 
tants, wandering about, more or less like itself, it 
is beginning to perceive, like fugitive flashes in a 
thick mist. Then there begins a desperate, verti- 
ginous struggle on the part of the sopl, which is 
still dull and heavy, to rise into the upper strata 
of the air, to free itself from earthly attraction and 
reach, in the heaven of our planetary system, the 
region proper to it and which friendly guides alone 
can show it. But before this can take place, a 
long period must often intervene. This phase of 
the life of the soul has borne different names in 
religions and mythologies. Moses called it Horeb ; 
Orpheus, Erebus ; Christianity, Purgatory, or the 
Valley of the Shadow of Death . The Greek initiates 
identified it with the cone of shadow which the 
earth is always trailing behind it, which shadow 
reaches as far as the moon ; for this reason they 
called it the abyss of Hecate . In these mirky 
depths, say the disciples of Orpheus and of Pytha- 
goras/ are tossed to and fro the souls which make 
desperate efforts to reach the circle of the moon, 
though the violence of the winds beats them back 
to earth by thousands. Homer and Virgil com- 
pare them with whirling leaves, or swarms of birds 
maddened by the tempest. 



133 


PYTHAGORAS 


The moon played an important part in ancient 
esoterism. On its surface, facing the heavens, the 
souls were regarded as purifying their astral body 
before continuing their celestial ascent. It was 
also supposed that heroes and great spirits took up 
their abode for a time on the portion of its surface 
turned towards the earth, in order to clothe them- 
selves in bodies appropriate to our world before re- 
incarnation. There was attributed to the moon, in 
a certain measure, the power to magnetize the soul 
for earthly incarnation, and to demagnetize it for 
its heavenly abode. In a general way, ‘these asser- 
tions, to which initiates attached a meaning that 
was at once real and symbolical, signified that the 
soul must pass through an intermediary stage of 
purification and free itself from the impurities of 
earth before continuing its journey. 

In what terms can one describe the arrival of the 
pure soul into its own world ? The earth has dis- 
appeared like a dream. A fresh sleep, a delightful 
swoon now envelops it as in a caressing embrace. 
All that it now sees is its winged guide carrying it 
away with lightning rapidity into the depths of 
space. What can we say of its awakening in the 
vales of some ethereal star, devoid of elemental 
atmosphere, where everything— mountains, flowers 
and vegetation — is of an exquisite, sensitive and 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 123 

eloquent nature ? Above all else, what can one say 
of those luminous forms, men and women, sur- 
rounding it like a sacred procession, to initiate it 
into the sacred mystery of its new life ? Are they 
gods or goddesses ? No ; they are souls like itself ; 
the wonder consists in the fact that .their inmost 
thoughts beam forth in their countenance, that 
tenderness and love, desire or fear radiate through 
those diaphanous bodies in a scale of luminous 
colorations. Here, body and countenance are no 
longer the mask of the soul ; the transparent soul 
appears in its real form, shining forth in the clear 
light of unpolluted truth. Psyche has returned to 
her divine home. The secret light in which she 
laves herself, which emanates from her and returns 
in the smile of beloved ones ; this light of great 
felicity is the soul of the world wherein she is 
conscious of the presence of God ! No more 
obstacles now l She will love and know ; she will 
live with no other limit than her own desire to 
soar. Strange and marvellous happiness I She 
feels that strong, profound affinities unite her to 
all her companions. For in the life beyond, those 
who do not love flee from one another ; those 
alone meet together who understand one another. 
With them she will celebrate the divine mysteries 
in more beautiful temples, in a more perfect com- 



124 


PYTHAGORAS 


raunion.- These will be living poems, ever new, 
each soul of which will be a strophe, and each one 
will live again its life in that of others. Then, 
quivering with delight, she will spring forth into 
the radiance on high, to the call of the Messengers, 
the winged ^Spirits, those who are called Gods, for 
they have escaped the circle of generations. Led 
on by these sublime intelligences, she will try to 
decipher the great poem of the Secret Word, to 
understand what she can grasp of the symphony 
of the universe. She will receive hierarchical 
information from the circles of Divine Love ; she 
will endeavour to see the Essences which the 
animating Spirits scatter throughout the worlds; 
she will contemplate the glorified Spirits, living 
rays of the God of Gods, but without being able to 
bear their blinding glory which makes suns look 
pale as smoky lamps I Then, when she returns 
terrified from these dazzling flights — for she 
shudders in presence of such immensities — she 
will hear from afar the call of beloved voices, and 
will fall back on the golden strands of her star, 
beneath the rose-coloured veil of a billowy sleep, 
peopled with forms clothed in white, and filled 
with sweet perfumes and melodious strains. 

Such is the heavenly life of the soul, scarcely 
conceived of by our earth-clouded minds, but 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 125 


divined by initiates, lived by seers and demon- 
strated by the law of analogy and universal con- 
cordance. In vain do our rude imagery and 
imperfect language attempt to translate it ; each 
living soul, however, feels the germ of this life in 
its hidden depths. Though in our present con- 
dition it is impossible for us to realize it, the 
philosophy of occultism has formulated its psychi- 
cal conditions. The idea of ethereal constellations, 
invisible to us, though forming part of our solar 
system and serving as an abode for happy souls, is 
often found in the secrets of esoteric tradition. 
Pythagoras calls it a counterpart of the earth : the 
antichthone , lit up by the central Fire, ue. t by the 
divine light. At the end of the Phaedo , Plato 
describes this spiritual land at some length, though 
in disguised fashion. He says that it is as light as 
air, and is surrounded by an ethereal atmosphere. 
In the other life, we see that the soul preserves 
the whole of its individuality. Of. its terrestrial 
existence it retains none but noble memories leav- 
ing the others to fall into the forgetfulness which 
the poets called the waves of Lethe. Freed from all 
defilement, the human soul feels its consciousness 
restored, so to speak. From without the universe, 
it has come back to within it; Cybele-Maia, the 
soul of the world, has, with deep yearning, drawn 



126 


PYTHAGORAS 


it back to her bosom. Here, Psyche will work out 
her dream, that dream continually broken and ever 
being recommenced on earth. She will work it out 
in accordance with her earthly effort and acquired 
intelligence, but she will magnify it an hundred- 
fold. Crushed hopes will again revive beneath the 
dawn of her divine life ; the gloomy sunsets of earth 
will kindle into the dazzling light of day. Though 
man had lived only one hour of enthusiasm or self- 
denial, that single pure note, torn away from the 
discordant scale of his earthly life, will^ be repeated 
in his after-life in marvellous progressions and 
jEolian harmonies. The fugitive delights that we 
obtain from the enchantment of music, the ecstasy 
of love or the raptures of charity are only the stray 
notes of a harmony to which we shall then be 
listening. Is this simply saying that such life will 
be only one long dream, one magnificent hallucina- 
tion f What is there truer than that which the soul 
feels within itself and which it realizes by its divine 
communion with other souls? Initiates, being 
consistent and transcendent idealists, have always 
thought that the only real and lasting things on 
earth are manifestations of spiritual Beauty, Love 
and Truth. As the after-life can have no other 
object than this Truth, this Beauty and this Love 
for those who make them the object of their lives. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 127 


they are convinced that heaven will be truer than 
earth. 

The heavenly life of the soul may last hundreds 
or thousands of years, according to its degree or 
strength of impulse. It belongs, however, only to 
the perfect, to the most sublime souls, ip those who 
have passed beyond the circle of generations, to 
prolong it indefinitely. The latter have not only 
attained to temporary rest, but to immortal action 
in truth ; they have created wings for themselves. 
Being light itself, they are inviolable ; seeing across 
the worlds, they rule them. The rest are carried 
along by an inflexible law to re-incarnation, in order 
to undergo a fresh trial, and to rise to a higher rung 
or to fall lower if they fail. 

The spiritual, like the terrestrial life, has its 
beginning, its apogee and its decline. When this 
life is exhausted, the soul feels itself overcome with 
heaviness, giddiness and melancholy. An invin- 
cible force once again attracts it to the struggles 
and sufferings of earth. This desire is mingled 
with terrible dread and a mighty grief at leaving 
divine life. But the time has come ; the law must 
be obeyed. The heaviness increases, a sensation of 
dimness is felt. The soul no longer sees its com- 
panions of light except through a veil, and this 
veil, ever denser and denser, gives a presentiment 



128 


PYTHAGORAS 


of the coming separation. It hears their sad fare- 
wells ; the tears of the blest, the loved ohes whom it 
is leaving, fall over it like heavenly dew which will 
leave in its heart the burning thirst of an unknown 
happiness. Then — with solemn oaths — it promises 
to rememb f er — to remember the light when in 
the world of darkness, to remember truth when in 
the world of falsehood, and love when in the world 
of hatred. The return, the immortal crown, can 
only be acquired at this cost. It awakens in a 
dense atmosphere ; ethereal constellation, diaphan- 
ous souls, oceans of light — all have disappeared. 
And now it is back on earth, in the abyss of birth 
and death. Nevertheless, it has not yet lost its 
celestial memory ; the winged guide still visible to 
its eyes points out the woman who is to be its 
mother. The latter bears within her womb the 
germ of a child, but this germ will only live if 
the spirit comes in to animate it. Then for nine 
months is accomplished the most impenetrable 
mystery of earthly life, that of incarnation and 
maternity. 

The mysterious fusion operates slowly but with 
perfect wisdom — organ by organ, fibre by fibre. 
Accordingly as the soul plunges into that warm 
cavern, which roars and swarms with life, in pro- 
portion as it feels itself caught up in the meander- 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 129 

ings of the viscera with their thousand recesses and 
folds, the consciousness of its divine life becomes 
effaced and dies out. For between it and the light 
above are interposed waves of blood and tissues of 
flesh, crushing it and filling it with darkness. This 
distant light is already nothing more than a dying 
flicker. Finally, a terrible pang compresses it in a 
vice ; a bloody convulsion tears it from the mother 
soul and fastens it down into a throbbing, palpitat- 
ing body. The child is born, a pitiful image of 
earth, and he cries aloud with fright. The memory 
of the celestial regions however has returned to the 
occult depths of the Unconscious ; it will only be 
revived either by Knowledge or by Pain, by Love 
or by Death ! 

Accordingly, the law of incarnation and dis- 
incarnation unfolds to us the real meaning of life 
and death. It constitutes the principal phase in 
the evolution of the soul, enabling us to follow it 
backwards and forwards right into the depths of 
nature and divinity. For this law reveals to us the 
rhythm and measure, the reason and object of the 
soul's immortality. From being abstract or fantas- 
tic, it makes it living and logical by showing the 
correspondences of life and death. Terrestrial birth 
is death from the spiritual point of view, and death 
is a celestial resurrection. The alternation of both 
n. 1 



i30 


PYTHAGORAS 


lives is necessary for the development of the soul, 
and each of them is at once the consequence and 
the explanation of the other. Whosoever is imbued 
with these truths is at the very heart of the mys- 
teries, at the centre of initiation. 

But, we ghall be asked, what is there to prove for 
us the continuity of the soul, of the monad, the 
spiritual entity through all these existences, since 
it loses the memory of them in succession ? What 
is there to prove, we shall reply, the identity of 
your person during waking existenqp and during 
sleep ? You wake up every morning from a state 
as strange, as inexplicable as death ; you rise from 
this condition of nothingness to return to it again 
at night. Was it nothingness ? No, for you have 
been dreaming, and your dreams have been as real 
to you as the reality of the waking state. A change 
in the physiological conditions of the brain has 
modified the relations of soul and body and dis- 
placed your psychical point of view. You were the 
same individual but you found yourself in another 
environment, and living another existence. In 
magnetized subjects, somnambulists and clair- 
voyants, sleep develops new faculties which to us 
seem miraculous, though they are the natural facul- 
ties of the soul when detached from the body. Once 
aroused, these clairvoyants no longer remember 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 13 1 

what they have seen, said or done during their 
lucid sleep, but they remember perfectly well in 
one sleep what happened in the previous one, and 
at times predict with mathematical certainty what 
will happen in the next. They haye, then, two 
consciousnesses as it were, two alternate lives 
entirely distinct from one another, but each of 
which has its own rational continuity. They roll 
themselves round the same individuality like cords 
of different colours round an invisible thread. 

Consequently, it is in a very deep sense that the 
initiate poets of old called sleep the brother of death. 
A veil of forgetfulness separates the sleeping from 
the waking state, like birth and death, and, just as 
our earthly life is divided into two parts always 
alternating, so also the soul, in the immensity of 
its cosmic evolution, alternates between incarnation 
and spiritual life, between earth and heaven. This 
alternate passage from one plane of the universe to 
another, this reversing of the poles of its being, is no 
less necessary for the development of the soul than 
alternate waking and sleeping is necessary for the 
bodily life of man. When passing from one exist- 
ence to the other, we need the waters of Lethe. In 
this present existence, a salutary veil conceals from 
us past and future alike. But oblivion is not com- 
plete, since light passes through the veil. Innate 



132 


PYTHAGORAS 


ideas alone prove a former existence. There is 
more, however ; we are born with a world of vague 
remembrances, mysterious impulses, divine pre- 
sentiments. In children born of gentle, quiet 
parents we find outbursts of wild passions which 
atavism does not sufficiently explain, and which 
come from a former existence. Sometimes in the 
humblest life we find fidelity to a sentiment or an 
idea, altogether sublime and inexplicable. Is not 
this a result of the promises and oaths of the 
celestial life ? The occult memory# the soul has 
kept of them is stronger than all earthly reasoning. 
According as it attaches itself to this memory or 
abandons it, is it seen to overcome or to succumb. 
True faith consists in this mute fidelity of the soul 
to itself. For this reason, one may conceive that 
Pythagoras like all theosophists considered bodily 
life as a necessary elaboration of the will, and 
heavenly life as a spiritual growth, an accom- 
plishment. 

Lives follow without resembling one another, 
but a pitiless logic links them together. Though 
each of them has its own law and special destiny, 
the succession is controlled by a general law, 
which might be called the repercussion of lives} I n 
accordance with this law, the actions of one life 
1 The law called Kartna by Brahmans and Buddhists. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 133 


have, fatally, their repercussion in the following 
one. Not only will man be born again with the 
instincts and faculties he has developed in his 
preceding incarnation, but the very maniter of his 
existence will be largely determined by the good or 
bad use he has made of his liberty in the preceding 
life. There is no word or. action which has not 
its echo in eternity, says a proverb. According 
to esoteric doctrine, this proverb is literally applied 
from one life to another. Pythagoras considered 
that the apparent injustice of destiny, the deformity 
and wretchedness of one's lot, misfortunes of every 
kind, find their explanation in the fact that each 
existence is the reward or the punishment of the 
former one. A criminal life engenders one of 
expiation ; an imperfect life, one of trial. A good 
life determines a mission ; a superior life, a per- 
fected mission by the re-establishment of initia- 
tion and the spiritual selection of marriages. In 
this way races follow one another and humanity 
progresses. The initiates of old saw much further 
into the future than those of our days. They ac- 
knowledged that a time would come when the great 
mass of people constituting present-day humanity 
would pass on to another planet, there to begin a 
new cycle. In the series of cycles of which the 
planetary chain consists, the whole of humanity will 



134 


PYTHAGORAS 


develop the intellectual; spiritual and transcendent 
principles which great initiates have developed in 
themselves in this life, and will thus bring them 
to general fruition. It goes without saying that 
such a development embraces not merely thou- 
sands, but (millions of years, and that it will 
bring about changes in human conditions such 
as we cannot at present form any imagination 
of. In expressing them, Plato says that in those 
times the gods will really inhabit the temples of 
men. It is logical to admit that in 4he planetary 
chain, ue. in the successive evolutions of our 
humanity on other planets, its incarnations should 
become more and more ethereal in their nature, 
insensibly approaching the purely spiritual state 
of that eighth sphere which is outside the circle 
of generation, and by which the divine state was 
denoted by theosophists of old. It is also natural 
that, as all do not start from the same point, and 
many loiter on the way or fall back, the number of 
the elect should continually diminish in this mar- 
vellous ascent. Our earth-limited intelligences are 
dazed by this conception, but heavenly intelligences 
contemplate it without the least fear, just as we 
regard a single life. Is not the evolution of souls, 
thus understood, in conformity with the unity of 
the Spirit, the principle of principles j with the 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 135 

homogeneity of Nature, the law of laws ; and with 
the continuity of movement, the force of forces ? 
Seen through the prism of spiritual life, a solar 
system does not constitute a material nyechanism 
only, but a living organism, a celestial kingdom in 
which souls travel from world to worlcUike the very 
breath of God animating it. 

What then is the final end of man and humanity, 
according to esoteric doctrine ? After so many 
lives, deaths, re-births, periods of calm and poign- 
ant awakings, is there any limit to the labours of 
Psyche ? Yes, say the initiates when the soul has 
definitely conquered matter, when, developing all 
its spiritual faculties, it has found in itself the 
principle and end of all things, then, incarnation 
being no longer necessary, it will enter the divine 
state by a complete union with the divine intelli- 
gence. Since we have scarcely any presentiment 
of the spiritual life of the soul after each earthly 
life, how shall we form any idea of this perfect 
life which must follow the whole series of its 
spiritual existences ? This heaven of heavens will 
be to all former happiness as the ocean is to 
a river. In the mind of Pythagoras, the apo- 
theosis of man was not a plunge into unconscious- 
ness, but v rather creative activity in supreme 
consciousness. The soul which has become pure 



PYTHAGORAS 


136 

spirit does not lose its individuality, but rather 
perfects it as it rejoins its archetype in God. It 
remembers all its former existences, which it regards 
as so mafty ladders to reach the point at which it 
embraces and penetrates the universe. In this 
state, man is no longer man, as Pythagoras said, 
but demi-god. For in his entire being he reflects 
the ineffable light with which God fills immensity. 
For him, knowledge is power ; love is creation ; 
being is radiating truth and beauty. 

Is this a definite limit? Spiritual 1 eternity has 
other measures than solar time, though it, too, has 
its stages, norms, and cycles. They entirely tran- 
scend human conception, however. Still, the law 
of progressive analogy in the ascending scale 
of nature allows of our affirming that the spirit, 
once it has reached this sublime state, can no longer 
return, that though the visible worlds change and 
pass away, the invisible world, which is its raison 
ditre , its source and basis, and of which the 
divine Psyche forms a part, is immortal. 

It was in such a brilliant perspective that Pytha- 
goras ended the history of the divine Psyche . The 
last word had died away on the lips of the sage, 
but the meaning of that incommunicable truth 
remained suspended in the motionless air of the 
crypt. Each listener believed that he had finished 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 137 

the dream of lives, and was awaking to life in the 
mighty peace and boundless ocean of the one life. 
The naphtha lamps quietly lit up the statue of 
Persephone, standing there in the chs^racter of 
a heavenly reaper ; they revived her symbolical 
history in the sacred frescoes of the sanctuary. 
At times, a priestess who had entered a state 
of ecstasy under the harmonious voice of Pytha- 
goras seemed to incarnate in her attitude and the 
radiance of her countenance the unspeakable 
beauty of the vision she saw. Then, the disciples — 
seized with a thrill of religious emotion — looked 
on in silence. Soon, however, the master, with a 
slow commanding gesture, brought back to earth 
the inspired prophetess. By degrees the tension 
of her features was relieved, she sank back into 
the arms of her companions and fell into a profound 
lethargy, from which she awoke troubled and sor- 
rowful, and apparently exhausted after her heavenly 
flight. 

Then, leaving the crypt they mounted to the 
gardens of Ceres just as morning was beginning to 
dawn over the sea, and the stars to disappear from 
mortal sight. 



i3« 


PYTHAGORAS 


FOURTH DEGREE — EPIPHANY 

The adept — The woman initiate — Love 
and marriage 

With Pythagoras we have now reached the 
summit of initiation in ancient times. From these 
heights the earth appears drowned in shadow, like 
a dying star. Sidereal perspectives open out — 
and the vision from on high, the epiphany of the 
universe , 1 is unfolded before one's wtmdering gaze 
in its entirety. The object of his instruction, how- 
ever, was not the absorption of man in contem- 
plation or ecstasy. The master had brought his 
disciples into the immeasurable regions of the 
Kosmos, plunging them into the abyss of the 
invisible. After this terrifying journey, the true 
initiates were to return to earth better, stronger 
and more prepared for the trials of life. 

The initiation of the intelligence was to be fol- 
lowed by that of the will, the most difficult of all. 
The disciple had now to become imbued with truth 
in the very depths of his being, to put it into prac- 

1 The tpiphany , or vision from above; the autopsy, or direct 
vision; the thtophany , or manifestation of God, are so many 
correlative ideas and divers expressions to indioate the state of 
perfection in which the initiate, having united his soul to God, 
contemplates truth in its entirety. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 139 

tice in everyday life. To attain to this ideal, one 
must, according to Pythagoras, unite three kinds 
of perfection: the realization of truth in intelli- 
gence, of virtue in soul and of purity ^in body. 
This latter was to be maintained by a prudent 
system of hygiene and a well-balanc # ed chastity. 
This was demanded not as an end but as a means 
to an end. All bodily excesses leave marks, 
impurities, so to speak, in the astral body, the living 
organism of the soul, and consequently in the 
mind. For the astral body participates in all the 
acts of the physical body ; indeed, it is the former 
which gives effect to them, the material body 
being, without it, nothing but an inert mass. 
Accordingly the body must be pure for the soul 
to be pure also. Then the soul, continually en- 
lightened by the intelligence, must acquire courage, 
self-denial, devotion and faith, in a word, virtue, 
by which a second nature must be made to replace 
the first. Finally, the intellect must reach wisdom 
through knowledge, so that in everything it may 
be able to distinguish good from evil and see God 
in the smallest of beings as well as in the immen- 
sity of worlds. On reaching these heights, man 
becomes an adept ; and, if he possesses sufficient 
energy, he enters into possession of new faculties 
and powers* The inner senses of the soul expand, 



I 4 0 PYTHAGORAS 

land the senses of the body are dominated by the 
radiant will. His bodily magnetism, penetrated 
by the potency of his astral soul, electrified 
by his fyill, acquires an apparently miraculous 
power. At times he cures the sick by the laying 
on of hands or simply by his presence. His 
look alone often penetrates the thoughts of 
men. Sometimes, in the waking state, he sees 
events taking place afar off . 1 He acts at a distance 

1 I will here mention two well-known facts of this kind, which 
are quite authentic. The first belongs to antiquity, its hero being 
the famous philosopher-magician, Apollonius of Tyana. 

i. Second sight of Apollonius of Tyana . — “ Whilst** these things 
(the assassination of the Emperor Domitian) were taking place 
at Rome, Apollonius saw them at Ephesus. Domitian was assailed 
by Clement about noon ; on the very same day, at that moment, 
Apollonius was discoursing in the gardens close to the Xystes. 
Suddenly he lowered his voice as though smitten with sudden 
terror. He continued his speech, but his language was of a 
different character, as is the case often with those who are speak- 
ing or thinking of something else. Then he stopped, as though 
he had lost the thread of his argument, gave a terrified look on 
the ground, took three or four steps forward and exclaimed : 
‘Strike the tyrant 1’ One would have said that he saw, not 
the image of the deed in a mirror, but the deed itself in all its 
reality. The Ephesians (for the whole of Ephesus was present at 
the speech of Apollonius) were struck with ponder. Apollonius 
stopped like a man waiting to see the result of some doubtful 
event Finally he exclaimed: ‘Be of good courage, Ephesians, 
the tyrant has been killed to-day. To-day ? Yes, by Minerva I He 
was being assassinated the very moment I interrupted my speech. 
The Ephesians thought that Apollonius had lost his senses) it was 
their keen desire that he should have said what was true, but they 
were afraid that some danger might come to them as the result 
of this speech. . . . Soon, however, messengers came bringing 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 141 

by the concentration of thought and will on such* 
persons as are attached to him by bonds of personal 


the good news and testifying in favour of the knowledge of 
Apollonius, for every detail: the murder of the tyrant, the day 
of its consummation, the hour of noon, the instigator of the 
murder whom Apollonius had encouraged, were, found to be in 
perfect conformity with those the Gods had shoyn him on the 
day of his discourse to the Ephesians .” — Life of Apollonius , by 
Philostratus. 

2. Second sight of Swedenborg . — The second fact refers to the 
greatest seer of modem times. The objective reality of Sweden* 
borg’s visions may be discussed, but there can be no doubt regard- 
ing his second tight, which has been attested by a multitude of 
facts. Swedenborg’s vision of the burning of Stockholm, a 
distance of ninety miles away, caused much wonderment in the 
second half of the eighteenth century. Kant, the well-known 
German philosopher, caused an inquiry to be made by a friend 
living at Gothenburg, in Sweden ; the following is his account 
as related to a lady friend : — 

“In my opinion the following fact is of the greatest demonstra- 
tive importance, and ought to do away with any kind of doubt. 
In 1759, M. de Swedenborg, one Saturday about four in the 
afternoon, about the end of December, landed at Gothenburg, 
after a journey to England. M. William Castel invited him to 
his house, where a company of fifteen persons was present. At 
six o’clock in the evening, M. de Swedenborg, who had left the 
room, returned, with a look of consternation on his pallid face, 
and said that ‘ at that very moment a fire had burst out in 
Stockholm, at the Sudermalm, and was rapidly spreading its 
ravages in the direction of his own home. ... He said that the 
house of one of his friends, whom he named, was in ashes, and 
that his own was in danger. At eight o’clock, again leaving the 
room, he returned and said joyfully : * Thank God 1 The fire 
has been extinguished at the third door from my own house.’ 
That very evening the governor was informed of the fact. On 
Sunday morning, Swedenborg was summoned before this function* 
ary, who questioned him on the matter. Swedenborg gave an 
exact description of the fire, its beginning and end, and the time 




142 


PYTHAGORAS 


sympathy, causing his image to appear to them 
as though his astral body could be transported out 
of his material body. The appearance of the dying 
or the d&jd to their friends affords exactly the same 
phenomenon. The apparition however which the 
dying man<or the soul of the dead man generally 
produces through an unconscious desire, in the last 
few moments of life or in the second death, is 
generally produced by the adept when in perfect 
health and consciousness. Still, he can only do 
this during sleep, and a sleep which is almost 
always of a lethargic nature. Finally, ^the adept 
feels himself as it were surrounded and protected 
by invisible beings, superior spirits of light, who 
lend him their strength and aid him in his mission. 

Adepts are rare, but even more rare are those 

it had lasted. The same day, the news spread throughout the 
town, which was all the more excited as the governor had mani- 
fested interest in it, and many people were anxious about their 
property and friends. On Monday evening there arrrived in 
Gothenburg a courier whom the business men of Stockholm had 
despatched during the conflagration. Among the letters the fire 
was described in exactly the manner above mentioned. What can 
be alleged against the authenticity of this event? The friend who 
wrote to me has examined the whole aflair, not only in Stock* 
holm, but, about two months ago, at Gothenburg also; he is 
well acquainted with the best-known families, and has been able to 
obtain complete information in a town where there are still living 
the majority of the eye-witnesses, considering the short lapse of 
time (nine years) since 1759 ”— Letter to Mademoiselle Charlotte 
de Knoblich, quoted by Matter, in his Lift of Swedenborg* 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 143 

who attain to this power. Greece knew but three : 
Orpheus at the dawn of Hellenism, Pythagoras at 
its apogee, and Apollonius of Tyana in its final 
decline. Orpheus was the mighty and^ ^inspired 
initiator of Greek religion ; Pythagoras, the or- 
ganizer of esoteric science and the philosophy of 
the schools; Apollonius, the moralizing stoic and 
popular magician of the decadence. In all three, 
however, in spite of differences and degrees, there 
beams the divine ray, the mind passionately in- 
flamed for the salvation of souls, indomitable 
energy clothed in gentleness and serenity. But do 
not draw too near these mighty, calm brows ; a 
silent fire is beneath, the furnace of an ardent but 
ever restrained will. 

Pythagoras accordingly represents to us an adept 
of the highest type, possessed of the scientific 
mind and cast in philosophic mould to which 
the spirit of modern times most nearly approaches. 
But he himself neither could, nor pretended to 
make perfect adepts of his disciples. A great 
inspirer is always at the beginning of every 
great epoch. His disciples and their pupils 
form the magnetic chain which carries his 
thought out into the world. In the fourth degree 
of initiation, Pythagoras therefore contented him- 
self with teaching his followers how to apply his 



144 PYTHAGORAS 

doctrine to life. The Epiphany , the vision from 
above, set forth an ensemble of profound, regene- 
rating views on things of earth. 

The ch'igin of good and evil remains an incom- 
prehensible mystery for whomsoever has not taken 
into account the origin and the end of things. A 
morality which does not consider the final destiny 
of man will be merely utilitarian and very imper- 
fect. Besides, human liberty does not really exist 
for such as always feel themselves the slaves of 
their passions, nor does it by right exist for such 
as believe neither in the soul nor in Godjfor whom 
life is a lightning flash between two states of dark- 
ness. The first live in the servitude of the soul, 
enchained by the passions ; the latter in the slavery 
of intelligence limited to the physical world. It is 
not so for the religious man, or for the true philo- 
sopher, nor with much greater reason for the theo- 
sophist initiate who realizes truth in the trinity of 
his being and the unity of his will. To understand 
the origin of good and evil, the initiate regards the 
three worlds with the spiritual eye. He sees the 
murky world of matter and animalism in which 
inevitable Destiny holds sway. He sees the lumin- 
ous world of the Spirit which, for us, is the 
invisible world, the immense hierarchy of liberated 
souls who are themselves Providence in action, the 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 145 

world where divine law reigns. Between the two he 
catches a dim glimpse of humanity, the lower ele- 
ments of which plunge into the natural worjd whilst 
the higher ones touch the divine spheres. The 
genius and spirit of humanity is Liberty ; for the 
moment man perceives truth and error, he i9 free 
to choose, to associate with Providence in accom- 
plishing truth, or, by following error, to fall be- 
neath the law of destiny. The art of will joined 
to that of intelligence is nothing but a mathemati- 
cal point, but from this point springs forth the 
spiritual universe. Every spirit partially feels by 
instinct what the theosophist totally understands 
by his intellect that Evil is what causes man to 
descend to the fatality of matter, and that Good is 
what makes him rise towards the divine law of the 
Spirit. His true destiny is to be ever rising higher, 
and that from his own efforts. But to do this he 
must also be free to descend again to the very 
lowest. The circle of liberty widens out to *the 
infinitely great in proportion as one ascends, it 
shrinks to the infinitely small in proportion as one 
descends. The higher one rises, the freer he be- 
comes ; for the more one enters into light, the more 
power for good he acquires. And the more one 
descends, the more enslaved does he become ; for 
each fall into evil diminishes the intelligence of 
n. K 



PYTHAGORAS 


146 

the true and the capacity for good. Destiny 
accordingly reigns over the past, Liberty over the 
future, ^and Providence over both, i.e. over the 
ever-existing present, which may be called 
Eternity . 1 From the combined action of Destiny, 
Liberty and Providence spring the innumerable 
destinies, the hells and the paradises of souls. 
Evil, being discord with divine law, is not the 
work of God but that of man, and has only a 
relative, an apparent and transitory existence. 
Good, being accord with divine law, alone really 
and eternally exists. Neither the priesfs of Delphi 
and Eleusis, nor the initiate philosophers would ever 
reveal these profound thoughts to the people, who 
might have misunderstood and misused them. In 
the Mysteries this doctrine was symbolically repre- 
sented by the mutilation of Dionysos, though what 
was called the sufferings of God was hidden from 
the profane by an impenetrable veil. 

The greatest of all religious and philosophical 
discussions deal with the question of the origin of 
Good and Evil. We have just seen that esoteric 

1 This idea springs logically from the human and dhrine ternary, 
from the trinity of the microcosm and the macrocosm we have 
spoken of in the previous chapters. The metaphysical correlation 
of Destiny, Liberty and Providence has been admirably drawn 
by Fabre d’Olivert, in his commentary on the Gulden Virus of 
Pythagoras , 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 147 


teachings hold the key to this question. There 
is another important question on which the social 
and political problem depends : the inequality of 
human conditions . In the very spectacle of evil 
and pain there is something terrifying. Their 
apparently arbitrary and unjust distribution may 
be said to be the origin of all hatred, revolt and 
denial. Here again the profound esoteric teach- 
ing brings into our earthly darkness its sovereign 
light of peace and hope. The diversity of souls, 
conditions and destinies can indeed only be justi- 
fied by plurality of existences and the doctrine of 
reincarnation. If man is born for the first time 
into this life, what explanation can be given of the 
innumerable evils which seem to fall on him as the 
effect of chance ? How can it be admitted that there 
is such a thing as eternal justice, when some are born 
under conditions which fatally bring about misery 
and humiliation, whilst others are born fortunate 
and live the happiest of lives ? If, however, it is 
true that we have lived other lives, and shall do so 
again after death, that through all these existences 
there reigns the law of recurrence and repercussion 
— then the differences of soul, of condition and des- 
tiny, will be nothing but the results of previous 
lives and the manifold applications of this law. 
Differences of condition spring from an unequal 



PYTHAGORAS 


148 

employment of liberty in past lives, and intellec- 
tual differences from the fact that men belong to 
extremely different degrees of evolution, which 
range frpm the semi-animal condition of retro- 
gressing races to the angelic states of saints and 
the divine* kingship of genius. In reality earth 
resembles a vessel, and all we who inhabit it are 
travellers coming from far-away lands, dispersing, 
by degrees, in every direction of the compass. The 
doctrine of reincarnation gives a raison detre , in 
accordance with eternal justice and logic, for the 
most terrible suffering as well as fdr the most 
envied happiness. The idiot will now be under- 
stood by us if we think that his dull, stupid condi- 
tion, of which he is half conscious and from which 
he suffers, is the punishment for a criminal use 
of his intelligence in another life. All the degrees 
of physical and moral suffering, of happiness and 
misfortune in their innumerable varieties, will 
appear to us as the natural and wisely-graduated 
blossomings of the instincts and actions, the faults 
and virtues of a long past, for in its occult depths 
the soul retains everything it accumulates in its 
divers existences. According to hour and influ- 
ence, the former births reappear and disappear, 
and destiny, or rather the spirits who control it, 
proportion the soul's kind of reincarnation to its 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 149 

degree and quality. Lysis expresses this truth, 
beneath a veil, in the Golden Verses — 

“ Thou wilt likewise know, that mcVi draw 
upon themselves, their own misfortunes 
voluntarily, and of their own* free choice. 
Unhappy that they are 1 They* neither see 
nor understand that their good is near 
them/ 1 

Far from weakening the sentiment of brother- 
hood and of the solidarity of all men, such teach- 
ing is bound to strengthen it. We owe help, 
sympathy and charity to all ; for we are all of the 
same race, though we have reached different stages. 
All suffering is sacred, for pain is the test of the 
soul. All sympathy is divine, for it enables us to 
feel, as by a magnetic thrill, the invisible chain 
binding together all the worlds. The virtue of 
grief is the reason of genius. Sages and saints, 
prophets and divine creators shine with more 
resplendent beauty in the eyes of those who know 
that they too come forth from universal evolution. 
How many lives, what innumerable victories have 
been needed to acquire this might which fills us 
with wonder ? What heavens have already been 
traversed to bring to us this innate light of genius ? 
We know not; but these lives have been lived, 



ISO PYTHAGORAS 

these heavens do exist. The conscience of nations 
is not mistaken ; the prophets have not lied in 
calling these men the sons of God, messengers from 
heavenly ^places. Their mission is demanded by 
eternal Truth, they are* protected by invisible 
legions and* the living Word speaks in them ! 

There is one difference in men springing from 
the primitive essence of individuals, and another) 
as we have just said, coming from the degree of 
spiritual evolution to which they have attained. 
From this latter point of view, we see that men 
may be placed in four classes, comprising every 
subdivision and degree. 

1. In the great majority of men, the will acts 
especially in the body. These may be designated 
as instinctive persons. Their sphere includes not 
only physical work, but also the exercise and 
development of the intelligence in the physical 
world, consequently commerce and industry. 

2. In the second degree of human development 
the will, and consequently the consciousness, has 
its abode in the soul, ue. in sensitiveness, reacted 
on by intelligence, which constitutes understand**? 
ing. These are animic , or passionate persons. 
According to temperament, they are fitted to be- 
come warriors, artists or poets. The great 
majority of savants and literary men belong to 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 151 

this class. They live in relative ideas, modified 
by passions or limited by a fixed horizon, without 
rising to the height of pure Idea or Universality. 

3. In a third class of men, a far rarer one, the 
will has acquired the habit of acting principally in 
pure intellect, of setting free the intelligence, in 
its special function, from the tyranny of the pas- 
sions and of the limits of matter, thus giving 
all their conceptions a character of universality. 
These are the intellectual persons. They include 
such heroes as perish in martyrdom for their 
country, the highest type of poets, and especially 
true philosophers and sages, those whose mission 
it is, according to Pythagoras and Plato, to govern 
humanity. In these men, passion is not extinct ; 
for without it nothing could be effected ; it con- 
stitutes fire and electricity in the moral world. 
The passions have here become the servants of 
intelligence, whilst in the former category intelli- 
gence is, oftener than not, the slave of the 
passions. 

4. The loftiest human ideal is realized by a 
•(fourth class of men, those who have added to the 

dominion of the intelligence over soul and instinct, 
that of the will over their whole being. They 
exercise supreme mastery through the control and 
possession of all their faculties. In the human 



152 PYTHAGORAS 

trinity they have realized unity. Owing to this 
marvellous concentration, which collects together 
„all the powers of life, their will, by projecting 
itself inio others, acquires an almost limitless 
strength, & radiating and creative magic. These 
men have borne different names in history. They 
are primordial men, adepts , great initiates , sublime 
geniuses, who transform and metamorphose human- 
ity. So rare are they that they may be counted 
in history ; Providence scatters them here and 
there at long intervals of time, like stars in the 
heavens. 1 

Evidently this last category is outside of all rule 
or classification, still, such a constitution of human 
society as takes no account of the first three 
categories, without granting each its normal func- 
tion and the means needed for self-development, 
is merely external, it is anything but organic . It 
is clear that, in primitive times, probably dating 
back to the Vedic epoch, the Brahmans of India 
founded the divisions of society into castes on the 
ternary principle. In time, however, this division, 
so just and fruitful a one, became changed into an 

1 This classing of men corresponds to the four stages of 
Pythagorean initiation, and forms the basis of all initiations, even 
that of the primitive freemasons, who were not without a smatter- 
ing of esoteric teaching.— See Fabre d’Olivert, Lm Vers doris de 
Pytkagort. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 153 

aristocratic and sacerdotal privilege. The principle 
of vocation and initiation was replaced by that of 
heredity. The closed castes finally became petri- 
fied and the irretrievable decadence of India fol- 
lowed. Egypt, which maintained, during the rule 
of the Pharaohs, the ternary constitution with the 
movable and open castes, the principle of initia- 
tion as applied to the priesthood and that of 
examination and control of all military and civil 
functions, existed for a period ranging between 
five and six thousand years without a change of 
constitution. As for Greece, her lively, versatile 
temperament caused her to pass rapidly from 
aristocracy to democracy, and from the latter to 
tyranny. She turned round in this vicious circle 
like a sick man passing from fever to lethargy 
and back again to fever. Perhaps she needed this 
excitement to produce her unparalleled work : the 
translation of the profound though obscure wisdom 
of the East into clear, universal language ; the 
creation of the Beautiful by Art ; and the foundation 
of an open and reasonable science following on a 
secret, intuitive initiation. And none the less was 
she indebted to the principle of initiation for her 
religious organization and her loftiest inspirations. 
Speaking from a social and political standpoint, 
it may be said that she always lived in whatever 



154 


PYTHAGORAS 


was provisional and excessive. Pythagoras, in his 
capacity as an adept,, had well understood, from 
the heights of initiation, the eternal principles 
which Control society, and was following out the 
plan of almighty reform in accordance with these 
truths. Soon we shall see how his school and him- 
self suffered shipwreck in the storms of democracy. 

From the pure, undefiled summits of his teach- 
ing the life of the worlds rolls on, in accordance 
with the rhythm of Eternity. Glorious epiphany ! 
Beneath the magic rays, however, of the unveiled 
firmament, earth, humanity and life alto unfold to 
us their secret depths. To feel the presence of 
God, the infinitely great must be recognized in 
the infinitely small. This is what the disciples 
of Pythagoras experienced when, to crown his 
teaching, the master demonstrated to them how 
eternal Truth is manifested in the union of man 
and woman in marriage. The beauty of the sacred 
numbers they had heard and contemplated in the 
Infinite they were about to recognize at the very 
heart of life, for them God was reflected in the 
great mystery of Sex and Love. 

Antiquity had grasped an important truth which 
succeeding ages have too long misunderstood. 
Woman, effectively to fulfil her duties as wife 
and mother, needs special instruction and initia- 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 155 

tion. Hence a purely feminine initiation ; that is 
to say, one reserved altogether for women. This 
existed in India, where in Vedic times the woman 
was a priestess at the domestic altar. In Egypt 
it dates back to the mysteries of Isis . 9 Orpheus 
organized this initiation in Greece. -Right on to 
the decay of paganism we see it flourishing in the 
Dionysiac mysteries as well as in the temples of 
Juno, Diana, Minerva and Ceres. It consisted of 
symbolic rites and ceremonies, in festivals by night 
as well as in special instruction given by aged 
priestesses or by the high priest, and dealing with 
the most private concerns of married life. Advice 
and regulations were given regarding the relations 
between the sexes, the times of the year and month 
favourable for healthy conception. >The highest 
importance was attached to the physical and moral 
hygiene of woman during pregnancy, so that the 
sacred work, the creation of the child, might be 
accomplished in accordance with divine law. In 
a word, the science of conjugal life and the art 
of maternity were taught. The latter extended to 
some years after the birth of the child. Up to the 
age of seven, the children remained in the gynae- 
ceum — which the husband never entered — under 
the mother's exclusive control. The wisdom of 
antiquity looked upon the child as being a delicate 



PYTHAGORAS 


* 5 * 

plant, which, if it is to be kept from wasting away, 
needs the warm, cheering atmosphere of a mother's 
love. The father would stunt its growth, a 
mother's kiss and embrace are needed to enable it 
to blossodi forth ; a woman's mighty encircling 
love to protect from outside attack this soul which 
a new life fills with terror and dismay. It is be- 
cause woman consciously fulfilled these lofty func- 
tions which antiquity regarded as divine, that she 
was in very truth the priestess of the family, the 
guardian of the sacred fire of life, the Vesta of the 
hearth. Feminine initiation may accordingly be 
regarded as the veritable reason of the beauty of 
the race, its robust descendants and the length of 
duration of the family, in Greek and Roman 
antiquity . 1 

In establishing a section for women in his 
Institute, Pythagoras merely deepened and refined 
what already existed. The women he initiated 
received frofti him, along with rites and precepts, 
the final principles of their functions. In this way 
he bestowed the consciousness of their rdle on such 
as were deserving of it. He revealed to them the 
transfiguration of love in perfect marriage, which 


1 Montesquieu and Michelet are almost the only writers who 
have made mention of the virtue of Greek wives. Neither of them 
states its cause, which 1 point out in these few lines. 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 157 

is the blending of two souls at the very centre of 
life and truth. Is not man in his strength the re- 
presentative of the creative spirit and principle ? 
And does not woman in the totality of her power 
personify nature in its plastic force, itsAvonderful 
realizations, at once terrestrial and diyine ? Then 
if these two beings succeed in a complete mingling 
of body, soul and spirit, they will form between 
them an epitome of the universe. To believe in 
God, however, woman needs to see him living in 
man ; and to effect this, man must be an initiate. 
He alone, by reason of his profound knowledge of 
life and creative will-power, is capable of fecundat- 
ing the feminine soul, of transforming it by means 
of his divine ideal. This ideal the loved one gives 
him back manifold in her vibrating thoughts, her 
keen sensations and profound divinations. She 
sends him back his image transfigured by enthu- 
siasm, she becomes his ideal, for she realizes it 
by the power of love in her own soul. Through 
her he becomes living and visible, he is made flesh 
and blood. For if man creates through desire and 
will, woman, both physically and spiritually, brings 
into being through love. 

In her rdle as lover or wife or mother or being 
inspired, she is no less great and is even more 
divine than man. For love is self-forgetfulness. 



PYTHAGORAS 


158 

The woman who forgets self and loses herself in 
her love must ever be sublime. In such self- 

y 

abasement she finds her celestial re-birth, her 
crown of light and the immortal radiance of her 
entire beirig. 

In moderq literature love has been reigning as 
a master for the past two centuries. This is not 
the purely sensual love, born of bodily beauty, as 
in the poetry of old, nor is it the insipid worship 
of an abstract and conventional ideal as in the 
middle ages ; it is rather a love both sensual and 
psychic which gives full scope to its liberty and 
individual fancy. Oftener than not both sexes 
wage war in love itself. There is the revolt of the 
woman against man’s egoism and brutality; the 
scorn of the man at woman’s deceit and vanity, 
carnal exclamations and the ineffectual wrath of 
the victims to voluptuousness, the slaves to de- 
bauchery. With all this we find deep-rooted 
passions and terrible attractions, all the more 
powerful from being trammelled and fettered 
by worldly conventions and social institutions. 
Hence a love full of passion and storm, of inoral 
ruin and tragic catastrophe, on which the modern 
novel and drama are almost exclusively based. 
One might say that tired man, finding God neither 
in religion nor in science, in despair seeks for 



THE ORDER AND THE DOCTRINE 159 


him in woman. And he does well, but it is only 
through the initiation of the great truths that he 
will find Him in Her and Her in ’Him. In these 
souls, which know neither themselves nor one 
another, which sometimes leave one £n<$her with 
mutual maledictions, there is, as it wese, a mighty 
desire for self-penetration, for finding in such 
intermingling a happiness that is impossible. In 
spite of, the aberrations, the outbursts of de- 
bauchery resulting therefrom, this desperate 
search is necessary ; it springs from an uncon- 
scious divinity. It will be a vital element in the 
reconstruction of the future. For when man and 
woman .have found themselves and one another 
through the channels of profound love and initia- 
tion, the fusion of the two will be the radiating 
and creative force par excellence . 

It is only quite recently, then, that psychic love, 
the soul's love-passion, has entered into literature 
and through it into universal consciousness. It 
has its origin, however, in the initiation of the 
past. The reason Greek literature scarcely men- 
tions it, is that it was a most rare exception. 
Another reason may be found in the profound 
secrecy of the mysteries. And yet religious and 
philosophic tradition have handed down traces of 
the woman initiate. Away behind official poetry 



x6o 


PYTHAGORAS 


and philosophy appear a few haif^veiled though 
luminous woman forms. We have already men- 
tioned Jheoclea who inspired Pythagoras ; later 
on will come Corinna, the priestess, ofttimes the 
fortunate Vival of Pindar, who himself was the 
greatest ini/iate among the Greek lyric pt^fets; 
finally, the mysterious Diotima appeared ^iTthre 
banquet of Plato to give the supreme 
of Love. By the side k of these exceptional jpjj^ 
the Greek woman exercised her veritable pri(Sj|fe 
hood at the fireside and in the gynaecejjm. Indee^ 
she created those heroes, artists and poets whose 
sublime deeds, sculptures and songs we so greatly* 
admire. It was she who conceived them in the 
mystery of love, who formed them in her womb 
with the desire and love of beauty, who brought 
them to birth after protecting them beneath her 
motherly wings. It must be added that for the 
man and woman who are real initiates the creation 
of the child has an infinitely finer signification 
and greater importance than for us. When father 
and mother know that the soul of the child existed 
previous to its birth on earth, conception becomes 
a sacred act, the summons of a soul to submit 
to incarnation. Between the incarnate soul and 
the mother there is almost always considerable 
similarity. ]ust as evil-minded and wicked women 



The order and the doctrine 161 


attract spirits ^possessed of demons, divine spirits 
are attrad$$d to gentle tender-hearted mothers. Is 
not this invisible soul, long waited for, which is 
to come and finally appears — so wonderfully and 
yet so surely — something divine in. tfs nature ? 
Pai|fil will be its birth and imprisonment in flesh. 
For -{hough a dense veil gathers between itself and 
the^hdzwrdn it has left, though it no longer remem- 
jj^U-Lal^s ! it suffers none the less on that 
f it^ount! Sacred and divine is the task of the 
pother who is to create for it a fresh dwelling, 
*to mitigate the harshness of its prison and render 
f*the Jjpal easier to bear. 

Thus we see that the teaching of Pythagoras, 
which had begun by the divine trinity in the pro- 
found recesses of the Absolute, ended in the human 
trinity at the centre of life. In Father, Mother and 
Child, the initiate could now recognize the Spirit, 
Soul and Heart of the living universe. For him 
this final initiation constituted the foundation of 
the social work, conceived of in all the height and 
beauty of the ideal, a building to whose construc- 
tion each initiate had to bring his stone. 


n* 


L 



CHAPTER V 

THE MARRlXGE OF PYTHAGORAS — REVOLUTION AT 
CROTON — THE MASTER'S END — THE SCHOOL AND 
ITS DESTINY 

Among the women who followed the master's 
teaching was a maiden of great beauty. Her 
father, an inhabitant of Croton, was named Bron- 
tinos. His daughter'* name was Theano. Pytha- 
goras was now sixty years of age, but mastery 
over passion and a pure life wholly consecrated to 
his mission, had kept him in perfect health and 
strength. The youth of the soul, that immortal 
flame the great initiate draws from his spiritual 
life and nourishes on the hidden forces of nature, 
shone forth in him, throwing into subjection all 
around. The Grecian mage was not at the 
decline, but rather at the height of his^ might. 
Theano was attracted to Pythagoras by the almost 
supernatural radiance emanating from his person. 
Grave and reserved, she had sought from the 
master an explanation of the mysteries she loved 
though without understanding them. When, how- 

xfe 



MARRIAGE OF PYTHAGORAS 163 

ever, beneath the light of truth and the tender 
glow which gradually enveloped her, she felt her 
inmost soul expand like the mystic rose /with its 
thousand petals, when she felt that this blossom- 
ing forth came from him and his. ^tfords — she 
silently conceived for the master a boundless 
enthusiasm and a passionate love. 

Pythagoras had made no effort to attract her. 
His love and affection were bestowed on all his 
disciples ; he thought only of his school, of Greece 
and the future of the world. Like many great 
adepts, he had denied himself the pleasures of 
earthly love to devote himself to his work. The 
magic of his will, the spiritual possession of so 
many souls he had formed and who remained 
devoted to him as to a well -loved father, the 
mystic incense of all those unexpressed affections 
which came to him, and that exquisite fragrance 
of human sympathy which bound together the 
Pythagorean brethren — all this took the place of 
voluptuousness, of human happiness and love. 
On? day, as he was alone, meditating on the future 
of his school in the crypt of Proserpine, he saw 
coming to him, with grave, resolute steps, this 
beautiful virgin" to whom he had never spoken in 
private. She sank on her knees at his feet, and 
with downcast eyes begged the master — the one 



1 64 PYTHAGORAS 

who could do everything ! — to set her free from 
an impossible, an unhappy love which was con- 
suming* her, body and soul. Pythagoras wished 
to know the name of the one she loved. After 
much hesitation, Theano confessed that it was 
himself, but that, ready for any sacrifice, she 
would submit to his will. Pythagoras made no 
reply. Encouraged by his silence, she raised her 
head with suppliant look. Her eyes seemed to 
contain the very essence of a life and soul offered 
as a sacrifice to the master. 

The sage was greatly disturbed ; he could over- 
come his senses and imagination, but the electric 
flash from that soul had pierced his own. In this 
virgin, matured by passion, her, countenance 
transfigured by a sentiment of utter devotion, he 
had found his companion, and caught a faint 
glimpse of a more complete realization of his 
work. With troubled look, Pythagoras raised the 
maiden to her feet, and Theano saw from the 
master's eyes that their destinies were for ever 
united. 

By his marriage with Theano, Pythagoras 
affixed the seal of realization to his work. The 
union and fusion of the two lives was complete. 
One day when the master's wife was asked what 
length of time elapsed before a woman could 



MARRIAGE OF PYTHAGORAS 165 

become pure after intercourse with a man, she 

replied : u If it is with her husband, she is pure 

all the time : if with another man, she is never 

✓ 

pure/' Many women would smilingly remark 
that to give such a reply one must J# the wife 
of Pythagoras, and love him as Theapo did. 

And they would be in the right, for it is not 
marriage which sanctifies love, it is love which 
justifies marriage. Theano entered so thoroughly 
into the thought and life of her husband, that 
after his death she became a centre for the Pytha- 
gorean order, and a Greek author quotes her 
opinion as that of an authority on the doctrine 
of Numbers. She bore Pythagoras two sons, 
Arimnestes and Telauges, and a daughter Darao, 
At a later date Telauges became the master of 
Empedocles, to whom he handed down the secrets 
of the doctrine. 

The family of Pythagoras offered the order a 
real model to follow. His house was called the 
Temple of Ceres, and his court the Temple of the 
Mtises, In domestic and religious festivals, the 
mother led the women's chorus, and Damo that of 
the maidens. In all respects Damo was worthy 
of her parents? Pythagoras -entrusted to her cer- 
tain writings expressly forbidding her to commu- 
nicate them to any one outside the family. After 



x66 


PYTHAGORAS 


the dispersion of the Pythagoreans, Damo fell 
into great poverty. She was offered a large sum 
for the^precious manuscript, but, faithful to her 
father's will, she always refused to part with it. 

Pythag&fts lived in Croton for thirty years. 
Within twenty years this extraordinary man had 
acquired such power that those who called him a 
demi-god were not looked upon as exaggerating. 
This power seemed to have something miraculous 
about it, no like influence had ever been exer- 
cised by a philosopher. It extended not merely 
to the school of Croton and its ramifications in 
other towns on the coast of Italy, but even to the 
politics of all these small states. Pythagoras was 
a reformer in the whole acceptation of the term. 
Croton, a colony of Achaia, had an aristocratic 
constitution. The Council of the Thousand, drawn 
from the noblest families, carried on the legislative 
and kept watch over the executive power. Popular 
assemblies existed, though their power was re- 
stricted. Pythagoras, who wished the State to be 
all order and harmony, was no more enamoured 
of oligarchical compression than of the chaos of 
demagogy. Accepting the Doric constitution as 
it was, he simply tried to introduce a fresh 
mechanism into it. The idea was a bold one, for 
it consisted in the creation, over and above the 



REVOLUTION AT CROTON 167 

political power, of a scientific one with a delibera- 
tive and consultative voice in questions of vital 
interest, and becoming the key-stone, the supreme 
regulator of the State. Above the Council of the 
Thousand, he organized the Council jff* the Three 
Hundred \ chosen by the former, but recruited from 
among the initiates alone. The number was suffi- 
cient for the task. Porphyrus relates that two 
thousand of the citizens of Croton gave up their 
wonted mode of living and united in order to 
live together with their wives and children after 
placing their possessions in one common stock. It 
was thus the wish of Pythagoras that at the head 
of the State there should be a scientific govern- 
ment, not so mysterious though quite as important 
as the Egyptian priesthood. What he realized 
for a short time remained the dream of all such 
initiates as dealt with politics, viz. the introduc- 
tion of the principle of initiation and examination 
into the government of the State, and the reconcilia- 
tion in this superior synthesis of the elective or 
democratic principle with a government consti- 
tuted of a select number of intelligent and virtuous 
citizens. The result was that the Council of the 
Three Hundred formed a kind of political, scientific 
and religious order, of which Pythagoras himself 
was the recognized head. The members were 



1 68 PYTHAGORAS 

bound to him by a solemn and an awful oath of 
absolute secrecy, as was the case in the Mysteries. 
These societies or iratpelat spread from Croton, 
the seat of the original society, throughout almost 
the wholeN^f the towns in Greater Greece, where 
they exercised a powerful political influence. The 
Pythagorean order also tended to become the 
head of the State throughout the whole of 
Southern Italy. Its ramifications extended to 
Tarentum, Heracleium, Metapontum, Rhegium, 
Himera, Catana, Agrigentum, Sybari^and, accord- 
ing to Aristoxenes, even among the Etruscans. 
As regards the influence of Pythagoras on the 
government of these rich and mighty cities, no- 
thing loftier, nothing more liberal or pacific could 
be imagined. Wherever he appeared, order, 
justice and concord were restored. Once, when 
summoned into the presence of a tyrant of Sicily, 
he persuaded him, by his eloquence alone, to 
restore the wealth he had unjustly acquired and to 
abdicate a power he had usurped. Such towns as 
were subject to one another he made independent 
and free. So beneficent were his actions that 
when he went into a town the inhabitants would 
say : “ He has not come to teach but rather to 
heal/' 

The sovereign influence of a great mind and 



REVOLUTION AT CROTON 169 

character, that magic of soul and intelligence, 
arouses jealousy and hatred which is only the more 
terrible and violent because it is itself the less 
capable of attack. His sway lasted a quarter of 
a century; the reaction came when thf*. •indefatig- 
able adept had reached the age of ninety. It 
began in Sybaris, the rival of Croton, where a 
rising of the people took place and the aristocratic 
party was overthrown. Five hundred exiles asked 
the inhabitants of Croton to receive them, but the 
Sybarites demanded their extradition. Dreading 
the anger of a hostile town, the magistrates of 
Croton were on the point of complying with this 
demand when Pythagoras intervened. At his 
entreaty, they refused to hand over the unhappy 
suppliants to their implacable enemies, whereupon 
Sybaris declared war upon Croton. The Croton 
army, however, commanded by the famous 
athlete, Milon, a disciple of Pythagoras, com- 
pletely defeated the Sybarites. The downfall of 
Sybaris followed ; the town was taken and plun- 
dered, utterly destroyed and converted into a 
wilderness of ruins. It is impossible to admit that 
Pythagoras could have approved of so terrible a 
revenge, which was altogether opposed to his 
principles, as, indeed, to those of all initiates. 
Neither he nor Milon, however, could check the 



170 PYTHAGORAS 

unbridled passions of a conquering army, when 
once inflamed by long-standing jealousy and 
excite^ by an unjust attack. 

Revenge, whether in individuals or in nations, 
always brings about a recoil of the passions let 
loose. The # Nemesis of this vengeance was a 
terrible one ; its consequences fell on Pythagoras 
and the whole of his order. After taking Sybaris, 
the people demanded a division of the land. Not 
content with obtaining this, the democratic party 
proposed a change of constitution, depriving the 
Council of the Thousand of its privileges, and 
suppressing the Council of the Three Hundred ; 
they were no longer willing to admit any other 
authority than universal suffrage. Naturally the 
Pythagoreans, members of the Council of the 
Thousand, were opposed to a reform which was 
contrary to their principles and was undermining 
the patient work of their master. They had already 
become the object of that dull hatred which 
mystery and superiority ever arouse in the masses. 
Their political attitude excited the anger of the 
demagogy, and personal hatred against the master 
proved the spark which kindled the fire. 

A certain Cylon had, some time before this, 
offered himself as a candidate for the School. 
Pythagoras, who was very strict in accepting 



REVOLUTION AT CROTON 17 1 

disciples, refused him because of his violent and 
headstrong disposition. This rejected candidate 
became a bitter enemy. When public opinion 
began to turn against Pythagoras he organized a 
club, a large popular society in opposition to that 
of the Pythagoreans. He succeeded in attracting 
to himself the principal leaders of the people, and 
at the meetings hatched a revolution which was 
to begin by the expulsion of the Pythagoreans. 
Cylon rose to his feet in front of a sea of upturned 
excited faces and read extracts stolen from the 
secret book of Pythagoras, entitled : The Sacred 
Word (i hieros logos). These extracts were then 
travestied and wrongly interpreted. A few of the 
speakers made an attempt to defend the Brothers of 
Silence, who respected even dumb animals. Such 
were greeted with outbursts pf laughter. Cylon 
ascended the tribune again and again. He demon- 
strated that the religious catechism of the Pytha- 
goreans was a crime against liberty. “ And that is 
a slight charge/' he added. “ Is this master, this 
would-be demi-god, whose least word is blindly 
obeyed, and who has merely a command to give, 
to have all his brethren exclaiming : ‘ The master 
has said it 1 — any other than the tyrant of Croton, 
and the worst of all tyrants, an occult one ? What 
else than scorn and disdain for the people is this 



PYTHAGORAS 


172 

indissoluble friendship which unites all the mem- 
bers of the Pythagorean eratpeiai composed of ? 
They ^re never tired of repeating the words of 
Homer when he says that the prince should be 
the shepherd of his people. In their eyes the 
people are evidently nothing better than a worth- 
less flock. The very existence of the order, I say, 
is a permanent conspiracy against the rights of 
the people. Until it is destroyed liberty will be a 
vain word in Croton 1 " One of the members of 
the meeting, animated by a feeling of loyalty, 
exclaimed : “ Let Pythagoras and his followers 

be given an opportunity, at any rate, to justify 
their conduct in our presence before we condemn 
them.” Cylon replied haughtily : " Have not 

these Pythagoreans deprived you of the right to 
judge and decide upon public matters ? What 
right have they to ask you to listen to them now ? 
They did not consult you when they deprived 
you of the right to exercise justice, now it is your 
turn to strike without listening to them 1 ” Such 
vehement opinions were greeted with rounds of 
applause, and popular frenzy and passion rose 
higher than ever. 

One evening, when forty of the principal 
members of the order had met at the abode of 
Milon, the tribune collected his followers and the 



THE MASTER'S END 


173 


house was surrounded. The Pythagoreans, who 
had the master with them, barricaded the doors. 
The enraged crowd set fire to the building, * which 
speedily became enveloped in flames. Thirty- 
eight Pythagoreans, the very first of master's 
disciples and constituting the flower ctf the order, 
along with Pythagoras himself, perished either in 
the flames or at the hands of the people. Archip- 
pus and Lysis alone escaped massacre . 1 

Thus died this mighty sage, this divine man 
whose effort it had been to instil his own wisdom 
into human rule and government. The murder of 
the Pythagoreans was the signal for a democratic 
revolution in Croton and about the Gulf of Taren- 
tum. The towns of Italy expelled from their walls 

1 This is the version of Diogenes of Laerte regarding the death 
of Pythagoras — according to Dicearchus, quoted by Porphyry, the 
master escaped massacre, along with Archippus and Lysis. He 
wandered from town to town until he reached Metapontum, where 
he died of hunger in the Temple of the Muses.' The inhabitants 
of Metapontum, on the other hand, affiimed that the sage they 
had taken in, died peacefully in their city. They pointed out to 
Cicero his house, seat and tomb. It is noteworthy that, long 
after the master's death, those cities which had persecuted Pytha- 
goras most, at the time of the democratic change of opinion, 
claimed for themselves the honour of having offered him refuge 
•ad protection. The towns around the Gulf of Tarentum claimed 
that they each contained the ashes of the philosopher with as 
much desperation as the towns of Ionia disputed among one 
another the honour of having given birth to Homer. — See this 
question discussed in M. Chaignet’s conscientious work : Pytha - 
***** tt la philosophic pytkagoricuntu. 



174 


PYTHAGORAS 


the unfortunate disciples of the master. The order 
was dispersed ; fragments of it, however, spread 
throughout Sicily and Greece, propagating every- 
where the master's words and teachings. Lysis 
became fh^teacher of Epaminondas. After fresh 
revolutions,, the Pythagoreans were permitted to 
return to Italy on condition they no longer formed 
a political body. They were still united in a touch- 
ing fraternity, and looked upon themselves as one 
family. One of them who had fallen upon sickness 
and poverty was kindly taken in by in inn-keeper. 
Before dying he traced a few mysterious signs on 
the door of the inn and said to the host : “ Do not 
be uneasy, one of my brothers will pay my debt." 
A year afterwards, as a stranger was passing by 
this inn he saw the signs and said to the host: “I 
am a Pythagorean ; one of my brothers died here ; 
tell me what I owe you on his account." The 
order existed for two hundred and fifty years; the 
ideas and traditions of the master have come down 
to the present times. 

The regenerating influence of Pythagoras over 
Greece was immense. This influence was exercised 
in mysterious though' certain fashion, by means of 
the temples he had visited. At Delphi we have 
seen that he gave new might to the science of divi- 
nation, strengthened the priestly influence, and by 



THE SCHOOL AND ITS DESTINY 175 

his art formed a model Pythoness. Thanks to this 
inner reform, which aroused enthusiasm in the very 
heart of the sanctuaries and in the soul .of the 
initiates, Delphi became more than ever the moral 
centre of Greece. This was especiall/ evident 
during the Median wars. Scarcely had thirty years 
elapsed since the death of Pythagoras when the 
Asiatic cyclone, predicted by the Samian sage, 
burst out upon the coasts of Hellas. In this epic 
struggle of Europe against a barbaric Asia, Greece, 
representing liberty and civilization, had behind her 
the science and genius of Apollo. He it is whose 
patriotic and religious inspiration stirred up and 
silenced the springing rivalry between Sparta and 
Athens. It is he, too, who was the inspirer of men 
like Miltiades and Themistocles. At Marathon, 
enthusiasm was so great that the Athenians believed 
they saw two warriors, clad in light, fighting in 
their ranks. Some recognized in them Theseus and 
Echetos ; others, Castor and Pollux. When the 
invasion of Xerxes, tenfold more formidable than 
that of Darius, broke over Thermopylae and sub- 
merged Hellas, it was the Pythoness who, on her 
tripod, pointed out the way of safety to the envoys 
from Athens, and helped Themistocles to gain the 
victory at Salamis. The pages of Herodotus thrill 
with her broken phrases: “Abandon the home- 



176 


PYTHAGORAS 


steads and lofty hills if the city is built in a circle 
. . . fire and dreadful Mars mounted on a Syrian 
chariot will bring your towers to ruin . . . temples 
are tottering in their fall, their walls are dripping 
with colcl s$yeat, whilst black blood is falling from 
their pinnacles . • . depart from my sanctuary. 
Let a wooden wall be your impregnable bulwark. 
Flee ! turn your backs on numberless enemies on 
foot and on horseback ! O divine Salamis ! How 
deadly wilt thou be to those born of woman !” 3 In 
the account given by Eschylus tht battle begins 
with a cry resembling the paean, Apollo’s hymn : 
“Soon the day, led on white coursers, spreads 
throughout the world its resplendent light. Imme- 
diately a mighty shout, resembling a sacred chant, 
rises from the ranks of the Greeks and the echoes 
of the island respond in a thousand loud-sounding 
voices/* What wonder that, intoxicated with the 
wine of victory, the Greeks at the battle of Mycale, 
in the presence of stricken Asia, choose as a rallying 
cry: “Hebe, Eternal Youth 1*' Yes, it was the 

1 In the temple language the term son of woman indicated the 
lower degree of initiation, woman here signifying nature. Above 
these were the sons of man or initiates of the Spirit and the Soul, 
the sons of the Gods or initiates of the cosmogonic sciences, and 
the sons of God or initiates in the supreme science. The 
Pythoness calls the Persians sons of woman , giving them this 
name from the character of their religion. Interpreted literally, 
her words would be devoid of meaning. 



THE SCHOOL AND ITS DESTINY 177 

breath of Apollo that moved through these wonder- 
ful Median wars. Religious enthusiasm, which 
works miracles, carried off both living and dead, 
threw a dazzling light on victory, and gave^a golden 
glory to the tomb. All the temples wepe plundered 
and destroyed, that of Delphi alone remained in- 
tact. The Persian hosts advanced to spoil the holy 
town. A quiver of dread came over all. The solar 
god, however, said through the voice of the pon- 
tiff : u I will defend myself ! '* Orders were given 
from the temple that the city be deserted, the 
inhabitants take refuge in the grottoes of Parnassus, 
and the priests alone keep sacred guard on the 
threshold of the sanctuary. The Persian army 
entered the town, all still as death ; the statues alone 
looked down as the hosts marched along. A black 
cloud gathered at the foot of the gorge, the thunders 
rolled and the lightning flashed on the invaders. 
Two enormous rocks rolled down from the summit 
of Parnassus, crushing to death great numbers of 
Persians. 1 At the same time noises and shouts 

1 “These may still be seen in the enclosure of Minerva,” said 
Herodotus, VIII. 39. The invasion of the Gauls, which took place 
two centuries later, was repelled in like manner. Here, too, a 
storm gathers, thunderbolts foil time after time on the Gauls; the 
earth quakes beneath their feet, they see supernatural visions; 
and the temple of Apollo is saved. These facts seem to prove that 
the priests of Delphi were acquainted with the science of cosmic 
fire and knew how to handle electricity by occult power as did 
the Ghaldaean magi. — See Am&We Thierry, Histoirtdcs Gat* Jots , I. 246. 

U. M 



PYTHAGORAS 


178 

issued from the Temple of Minerva, flames leapt 
from the ground beneath, the very feet of the in- 
vader^. Before such wonders the barbarians fell 
back in ^error and the dismayed army took to flight. 
The god had undertaken his own defence l 

Would these wonders have happened, would 
these victories that humanity looks upon as its own 
have taken place, had not Pythagoras, thirty years 
earlier, appeared in the Delphic sanjtuary to kindle 
there the sacred fire ? This may, indeed, be 
questioned. 1 

One word more regarding the master's influence 
on philosophy. Before his time, there had been 
natural philosophers on the one hand, and moral 
philosophers on the other ; Pythagoras included 
in a vast synthesis, morality, science and religion. 
This synthesis is nothing else than the esoteric 
doctrine, whose full glory I have endeavoured to 
reveal in the very basis of Pythagorean initiation. 
The philosopher of Croton was not the inventor 
but the light-bearing arranger of these fundamental 
truths, in the scientific order of things. Conse- 
quently 1 have chosen his system as offering the 
most favourable framework to a complete account 
of the doctrine of the Mysteries as well as of true 
theosophy. 



THE SCHOOL AND ITS DESTINY 179 


Those who have followed the master up to this 
point will have seen that at the basis of the 
doctrine there shines the sun of the one Truth. 


Scattered rays may be discovered in philosophies 
and religions, but here is their ceptre. What 
must be done to attain thereto ? Observation 


and reasoning are not sufficient. In addition to 
and above all else is intuition. Pythagoras was 
an adept and an initiate of the highest order. 
His was the direct vision of the spirit, his the key 
to the occult sciences and the spiritual world. It 
was from the primal fount of Truth that he drew 
his supplies. And as he joined to these transcend- 
ent faculties of an intellectual and spiritualized 
soul, a careful and minute observation of physical 
nature and a masterly classification of ideas by 
the aid of his lofty reason, no one could have 
been better equipped than himself to build up the 
edifice of the knowledge of the Kosmos. 

In truth this edifice was never destroyed. Plato, 
who took from Pythagoras the whole of his meta- 
physics, had a complete idea thereof, though he 
unfolded it with less clearness and precision. The 
Alexandrine school occupied the upper storeys of 
the edifice, whilst modern science has taken the 
ground-floor and strengthened its foundations. 



180 PYTHAGORAS 

-Numerous philosophical schools and mystical or 
religious sects have inhabited* its many chambers. 
No philosophy, however, has yet embraced the 
whole o£ it. It is this whole I have endeavoured 
to reveal hei;e in all its harmony and unity. 



PLATO 

(THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS) 



Men have called Love Eros, because he has wings ; the Gods 
have called him Pteros, because he has tlfe virtue of giving 
wings. 

Plato ('‘The Banquet”). 

In heaven, to learn is to see • 

On earth, it is to remember. 

Happy he who has passed through the Mysteries ; 

He knows the origin and the end of life. 


Pindar. 



PLATO 


After attempting to revive in Pythagoras the 
greatest of the initiates of Greece, and through 
him the primordial and universal basis of religious 
and philosophical truth, we might dispense with 
any mention of Plato, who confined himself to 
giving this truth a more imaginative and popular 
form. This, however, is the very reason why we 
shall stop for a moment to consider the noble 
Athenian philosopher. 

Yes, there is a mother-doctrine, a synthesis of 
religions and philosophies. It develops and deepens 
as the ages roll along, but its foundation and centre 
remain the same. We have gone over the main 
lines of this doctrine, but is that sufficient ? No ; 
we have still to show the providential reasons for 
its different forms, according to race and time. 
We must re-establish the chain of the great initiates, 
who were the real initiators of humanity. Then, 
the might of each of them will be multiplied by 
that of all the rest, and the unity of truth will 
appear in the very diversity of its expression. 



PLATO 


184 

Like everything in nature, Greece has had her 
dawn, the full blaze of her sun, and her decline. 
Such i§ the law of days, of men, and nations, of 
earths and heavens. Orpheus is the initiate of the 
dawn, Pythagoras the initiate of the full daylight, 
and Plato tha't of the setting sun of Greece, a setting 
of glowing purple which becomes the rose of a new 
dawn, the dawn of humanity. Plato follows Pytha- 
goras, just as the torch-bearer followed the great 
hierophant in the mysteries of Eleusis. With him 
we shall now travel once more, alorfg a fresh path, 
through the avenues of the sanctuary, right to the 
heart of the temple, there to behold the great 
arcanum. 

Before proceeding to Eleusis, however, let us 
listen for a moment to our guide, the divine Plato. 
Let him show us his own natal horizon, relate to 
us the story of his soul, and lead us to the feet of 
his beloved master. 



CHAPTER I 


THE YOUTH OF PLATO AND THE DEATH .OF SOCRATES 

Plato was bom in Athens, that city of beauty 
and humanity. His youthful vision encountered 
no obstacle or limit. Attica, exposed to every 
wind, projects into the /Egean Sea, like the prow 
of a vessel, and queens it over the cycle of isles, 
lying there like white sirens on the dark blue waves. 
He grew up at the feet of the Acropolis, beneath 
the guardianship of Pallas Athena, in that wide 
plain enclosed within violet mountains and enve- 
loped in a luminous azure, a plain situated between 
marble-flanked Pentelichus, pine-crested Hymettus, 
the sweet-smelling home of bees, and the peaceful 
bay of Eleusis. 

Dark and troubled, in contrast, was the political 
horizon during Plato’s childhood and youth. This 
was the period of that implacable Peloponnesian 
war, the fratricidal struggle between Athens and 
Sparta which led to the overthrow of Greece. The 
niighty days of the Medic wars had vanished ; the 
suns of Marathon and Salamis had set. The year 



PLATO 


186 

of Plato’s birth (429' B^c.) marked that of the 
death of Pericles, the greatest statesman of Greece, 
as upright as Aristides and as able as Themistodes, 
the most perfect representative of Hellenic civilisa- 
tion, capable of swaying and guiding that turbulent 
democracy— an ardent patriot, though calm as a 
demi-god — in the midst of a popular upheaval. 
Plato’s mother must have related to her son a 
scene at which she had certainly been present, two 
years before the birth of the future philosopher. 
The Spartans had invaded Attica Athens, whose 
national existence was already threatened, had 
struggled a whole winter, Pericles being the soul 
of its defence. In the course of that gloomy year, 
an imposing ceremony took place at the Ceramicus. 
The coffins of the warriors who had died for their 
country were placed on funeral chariots, and the 
people summoned to the monumental tomb destined 
to receive them. This mausoleum seemed to be the 
magnificent though sinister symbol of the tomb 
Greece was digging for herself, in her criminal 
struggle. It was then that Pericles pronounced 
the finest speech antiquity has preserved for us. 
Thucydides transcribed it on his tablets, as enduring 
as brass, and the following sentence shines forth 
like a shield on the pediment of a temple » “ The 
whole universe is the tomb of heroes, not columns 



PLATO AND SOCRATES 187 

covered with pompous ‘inscriptions.” In such a 
sentiment, do we not see" breathing the very con- 
sciousness of Greece and of her immortality i 
But when Pericles died, what remained alive of 
ancient Greece in her men of actioi /? Inside 
Athens, the discord of a demagogy at J)ay ; outside, 
the Lacedaemonian invasion ever at the gates, war 
by land and sea, and all the time the gold of the 
King of Persia circulating like a corrupting poison 
in the hands of the tribunes and magistrates. 
Alcibiades had replaced Pericles in popular favour. 
This type of the gilded youth of Athens had become 
the man of the hour. Rash politician and seductive 
intriguer as he was, he led his country to ruin, 
with a smile on his lips. Plato had observed him 
carefully, for later on he gave a masterly psycho- 
logical description of his character. He compared 
the mad desire for power which filled the soul of 
Alcibiades to a large-winged hornet-drone, “ round 
which the passions, crowned with flowers, perfumed 
with essences and intoxicated with wine and all 
those unbridled pleasures which follow in their 
train, come buzzing, nourishing and rearing it, 
and finally arming it with the spur of ambition. 
Then this tyrant of the soul, with madness as his 
escort, stirs about furiously ; if he finds about him 
honest thoughts and sentiments still capable of 



i88 


PLATO 


feeling shame, he drives them away and kills them, 
until he has cleansed the soul of all temperance 
and filled it with the madness he has brought.” 

So we see that the sky of Athens was considerably 
clouded during the youth of Plato. At the age of 
twenty-five, Ije was present at the capture of Athens 
by the Spartans, after the disastrous naval battle of 
iEgospotami. Then he witnessed the entrance of 
Lysander into his native town, indicating the end 
of Athenian independence. He saw the long walls 
built by Themistocles thrown down to the sound 
of festival music, and the enemy literally dancing in 
triumph over the ruins of his country. Then came 
the Thirty Tyrants and their proscriptions. 

These sights saddened the youthful soul of Plato, 
though they could not unsettle it, for it was as 
clear and open as the vault of heaven above the 
Acropolis. Plato was a tall, broad-shouldered 
young man, grave and reserved, scarcely ever 
speaking, though when he did open his mouth, 
an exquisite, charming gentleness seemed to char- 
acterise his words. There was nothing striking or 
extravagant in him. His various aptitudes were 
concealed, as though they had dissolved into the 
higher harmony of his being. The serious bent of 
his mind was hidden by a winged grace' and natural 
modesty, whilst an almost feminine tenderness 



PLATO AND SOCRATES 189 

served to veil the firmness of his character. In 
him, virtue clothed itself with a smile and pleasure 
with an ingenuous chastity. But what .formed 
the dominant, the extraordinary, and unique char- 
acteristic of this soul was the fact thatf at birth, 
it seemed to have concluded a mysterious pact with 
Eternity. Only things that were eternal seemed 
living in the depths of his great eyes, other things 
passed by like unsubstantial forms in a profound 
mirror. Behind the visible, changing, imperfect 
forms of the world and of the beings in it, there 
appeared to him the invisible, perfect forms eternally 
shining forth, of these same beings, which the spirit 
sees and which are the eternal models of the others. 
And so we see that the youthful Plato, without 
formulating his doctrine or even knowing that 
some day he would be a philosopher, was already 
conscious of the divine reality of the Ideal and of 
its omnipresence. As he saw the women, the 
funeral chariots, the armies and fites and the mourn- 
ing, his looks seemed to behold something else and 
to ask ; “ Why do they weep, why do they raise 
shouts of joy ? They believe they are and yet they 
are not. Why cannot I attach myself to that 
which is born, to that which dies ? Wherefore 
can I love nothing but the Invisible, which is never 
bom and which never dies, but which always is ? ” 



190 


PLATO 


Love and Harmony* are the foundation of Plato’s 
soul, but his Love and Beauty are eternal, his 
Harmoijy, that which enfolds the universe. The 
more mighty and profound a soul, the longer it 
takes to know itself. His first outbursts of enthu- 
siasm spent themselves in art. He was of noble 
lineage, for his father alleged that he was descended 
from King Codrus, and his mother from Solon. 
Consequently his youthful days were those of a 
rich Athenian, surrounded by every luxury and all 
the seductions of a period of decadence. He gave 
himself up to them without either excess or prudish- 
ness, living the same life as his companions, in the 
noble enjoyment of a fine inheritance, and sur- 
rounded and ittei by numerous friends. In his 
Phadrus, he has too well described the passion of 
love in all its phases, not to have personally experi- 
enced its keen transports and cruel disillusions. We 
have a single line of poetry from him, as passionate 
as a line by Sappho, and radiant as a starry night 
on the sea of the Cyclades : 44 Would I were Heaven 
itself ; all eyes, to behold thee ! ” Searching for the 
supremely beautiful through every mode and form 
of beauty, he studied painting, %iusic, and poetry 
in turn. The last of these seemed as though it 
would respond to all his needs and finally deter- 
mine his desires. Plato had a wonderful facility 



PLATO AND SOCRATES 


191 


for every kind of poetry ; he feltwith equal intensity 
amorous and dithyrambic poetry, the epopee, 
tragedy, and comedy even in its subtlest form. 
Why should he not become a second Sophocles 
and rescue the theatre of Athens from Imminent 
downfall ? This ambition tempted 1pm, and his 
friends encouraged him in the idea. At the age of 
twenty-seven he had written several tragedies and 
was about to offer one for competition. 

It was about this time that Plato met Socrates, 
who was discussing with some youths in the gardens 
of the Academy. He was speaking about the Just 
and the Unjust, the Beautiful, the Good, and the 
True. The poet drew near to the philosopher, 
listened to him, and returned on the morrow and 
for several days afterwards. At the end of a few 
weeks, his mind had undergone a complete revolu- 
tion; the happy youth, the poet full of illusions, 
no longer recognised himself. Not only the trend 
of his ideas, but the very object of his life had 
changed. Another Plato had been bom in him, as 
he listened to the words of the one who called 
himself “ the one who brings souls to birth.” What 
had happened ? By what spell had this satyr-faced 
reasoner tom the handsome, talented Plato away 
from his voluptuous luxury and poetry, and con- 
verted him to wisdom’s great renunciation ? 



Plato 


192 

This good-natured 3bcrates was a simple fellow, 
though very eccentric. Son of a statuary, he 
sculptured the three Graces in his youth ; then he 
flung away his chisel, saying that he preferred to 
carve hi§ soul rather than marble. From that 
moment, he t gave up his whole life to the search 
of wisdom. He might be met with in the gymnasia, 
on the public square, at the theatre, talking to 
young men, artists, philosophers, asking each of 
them the reason for whatever he 4 affirmed. For 
several years past, the sophists had beaten down 
on Athens like a cloud of locusts. The sophist is 
the counterfeit and living negation of the philo- 
sopher, just as the demagogue is the counterfeit 
of the statesman, the hypocrite of the priest, and 
the black magician the infernal counterfeit of the 
real initiate. The Greek type of the sophist is more 
subtle, more reasoning and corrosive than the rest, 
but as a class they belong to all decadent civilisa- 
tions. Here sophists swarm, as fatally as do worms 
in a body in a state of decomposition. Whether 
they call themselves atheists, nihilists, or pessimists, 
sophists of all times resemble one another. They 
always deny God and the Soul, that is to say, 
supreme Truth and Life. Those contemporary 
with Socrates, like Gorgias, Prodicus, and Prota- 
goras, said that there was no difference between 



PLATO AND SPCRATES *93 

truth and error. They prided themselves on proving 
any idea whatsoever and its contrary, affirming 
that there is no other justice than might, no other 
truth than the opinion of the subject. With all 
this they were self-satisfied, lovers of gotd cheer, 
and charged very high prices for tfieir lessons. 
They also incited the youth of Athens to debauchery, 
intrigue, and tyranny. 

Socrates approached sophists with insinuating 
gentleness and innocence, as though he were an 
ignorant man, desirous of learning. His eyes shone 
with benevolent intelligence. Then, from question 
to question he forced them to say the contrary oi 
what they had first affirmed, and actually to confess 
that they did not even know that of which they 
spoke. Then he demonstrated that the sophists 
knew the 'cause and origin of nothing, though they 
pretended te, be in possession of universal know- 
ledge. After silencing them in this way, he did 
not triumph in his victory, but smilingly thanked 
his opponents for the information he had obtained 
from their replies, adding that the beginning of true 
wisdom consists in knowing that one knows nothing. 
What did Socrates himself believe and affirm ? 
He did not deny the gods ; he even worshipped 
them like the rest of his fellow-citizens, though he 
said that their nature was impenetrable. He con- 
II. N 



194 <>LATO 

fessed also that he understood nothing of the 
physics and metaphysics taught in the schools. 
The important thing, he said, was to believe in 
the Just and the True, and to apply them to life. 
His arguments were very powerful, for he was a 
living example of them : an irreproachable citizen, 
a bold soldier, an upright judge, a faithful, dis- 
interested friend, and absolutely master of every 
passion. 

Thus do the tactics of moral education change 
according to time and environment. Pythagoras, 
in the presence of initiate disciples, brought ethics 
home to them in his teaching of cosmogony, whilst 
in the public square at Athens, before men like 
Cleon and Gorgias, Socrates spoke of the innate 
sentiment of the Just and the True, in order to 
reconstruct the world and the shattered social 
order. Both of them, the one in the descending, 
the other in the ascending order of principles, 
affirmed the same truth. Pythagoras represents 
the principles and method of the loftiest initiation ; 
Socrates proclaims the era of open science. That 
he might still preserve his r 6 le as popular exponent, 
he refused to become initiated into the mysteries 
of Eleusis. None the less, however, was he pos- 
sessed of the signification and faith of the total 
supreme truth taught by the great Mysteries. When 



PLATO AND SOCRATES 


195 


speaking of them, his face changed in expression 
like that of an inspired, god-possessed Faun. His 
eyes flashed, his countenance became transfigured, 
and from his lips there fell one of those simple 
luminous sentences which reveal the' bases of 
things. 

Why was Plato irresistibly charmed and sub- 
jugated by this man ? When he saw him, he 
understood the superiority of the Good over the 
Beautiful. For the Beautiful realises the True 
only in the mirage of Art, whilst the Good is accom- 
plished in the depths of the soul. Rare and 
powerful is the fascination, for the senses have no 
part in it. The sight of a really just man caused 
the dazzling splendours of visible art to pale away 
in Plato’s soul, there to give place to a diviner 
dream. 

This man showed him the inferiority of beauty 
and glory as he had conceived them hitherto, in 
comparison with the beauty and glory of the soul 
in action, which attracts, for ever, other souls to 
its truth ; whilst the pomp of Art succeeds only 
in causing a deceptive truth to be reflected beneath 
an illusive veil. This radiant, eternal Beauty, 

* the Shining of the True,” killed the changing, 
deceptive beauty which was in Plato’s soul. This 
® the reason Plato, forgetting and leaving all he 



PLATO 


196 

had hitherto loved, gave himself with all the poetry 
of his soul to Socrates in the flower of his youth. 
A great victory of Truth over Beauty, big with 
incalculable consequences in the history of the 
human mind. 

Plato’s friends, all the same, expected to see 
him make his d/but in poetry on the tragic stage. 
He invited them to a great feast at his house, and 
all were amazed at his desire to give this fite at 
such a time, for it was the custom to give one only 
after having obtained the prize and when the 
winning tragedy had been played, fto one, however, 
refused an invitation sent out by this rich youth, 
in whose home the Muses and the Graces met 
together in the company of Eros. His house had 
long served as a meeting-place for the elegant youth 
of Athens. Plato spent a fortune on this feast. 
The table was laid out in the garden, whilst youths, 
torch in hand, afforded light for the guests. The 
most beautiful courtezans of Athens were present, 
and feasting was carried on throughout the night. 
Hymns were chanted to Love and Bacchus. Female 
flute-players danced their most voluptuous dances. 
Finally, they requested Plato to recite one of his 
own dithyrambs. Rising to his feet with a smile, 
he said : “ This feast is the last I shall ever give 
you. From this day onward, I renounce the* 



plato and Socrates 


197 


pleasures of life to consecrate myself to wisdom and 
to follow the teachings of Socrates. Be it known 
to all* of you that I even renounce poetry, for I have 
recognised how. powerless it is to express the truth 
I am following after. I will not write aufother line, 
but will now burn in your presence aU I have com- 
posed.” A cry of mingled astonishment and pro- 
test rose from every one round the table, where 
the guests, crowned with roses, were reclining on 
sumptuous couches. Some expressed surprise, others 
indignation, written clearly on countenances flushed 
with wine and gay conversation. The sophists 
present and the men about town indulged in laughs 
of incredulity and scorn. Plato’s idea was regarded 
as both mad and sacrilegious, and he was requested 
to withdraw what he had said. He repeated his 
determination, however, in tones of calm assurance 
which permitted of no reply, and concluded with the 
words : “I thank all of you who have been good 
enough to join in this farewell fite, but I shall now 
keep by my side only such as are willing to share 
my new life. The friends of Socrates shall hence- 
forth be my friends and those only.” These words 
passed like a blighting frost over a meadow of 
flowers. They suddenly gave these ruddy ex- 
pansive countenances the sad, embarrassed looks 
of men present at a funeral ceremony. The 



PLATO 


198 

courtezans rose to their feet, and, with looks of 
vexation at the master of the house, were carried 
off in ‘their litters. The sophists and elegant 
fops slunk away, saying in tones of mingled irony 
and sprighllmess : “ Farewell, Plato ! Be happy ! 
Thou wilt cdme back to us ! Farewell I Fare- 
well ! ” Two serious-minded youths alone remained 
behind. Those faithful friends he took by the 
hand, and, leaving the half-emptied amphoras of 
wine, the roses with their leaves scattered about, 
and the lyres and flutes lying in ^disorder among 
goblets filled with wine, Plato led the way to the 
inner court of the house. There, piled on a small 
s altar, they saw a pyramid of papyrus rolls. These 
consisted of the whole of the poetical works of Plato. 
Taking up a torch, the poet set fire to them, smiling 
as he uttered the words : “ Vulcan, come hither ! 
Plato hath need of thee.” 1 
When the flames had died away, and the last 
flicker was over, the friends, with tears in their 
eyes, silently bade farewell to their future master. 
Plato, however, who was left alone, did not weep, 
for wonderful peace and serenity filled his entire 
being. He was thinking of Socrates whom he was 

1 Fragment of the complete works of Plato, preserved under, 
the title : “ Plato burning his poems.” 



PLATO AND SOCRATES 


199 


going to see. The rising 4awn cast its radiance 
ovej the terraces of the houses, the colonnades and 
pediments of the temples ; and soon the helmet of 
Minerva shone with the sun’s first beam on the top 
of the Acropolis. 



CHAPTER II 


THE INITIATION OF PLATO AND THE PLATONIC 
PHILOSOPHY 

Three years after Plato bad become the disciple of 
Socrates, the latter was condemned to death by the 
Areopagus, and died by drinking the hemlock, 
surrounded by his disciples. 

Few historical events are so well known as this, 
and there are few whose causes and effects have 
been so badly understood. At the present day it 
is held that the Areopagus was in the right to con- 
demn Socrates as an enemy of the State religion, 
because, in denying the gods, he was undermining 
the foundations of the Athenian Republic. We 
shall shortly show that this assertion contains two 
profound errors. Let us first call to mind what 
Victor Cousin has had the courage to write at the 
head of the Apology of Socrates, in his fine transla- 
tion of Plato’s works : “ Anytus, it must be stated, 
was a citizen worthy of commendation ; the 
Areopagus, a just and dispassionate tribunal ; and 



THE INITIATION OF PLATO 


201 


the only thing one may wonder at, is that Socrates 
was accused so late in the day, and that he was not 
condemned by a larger majority.” The philosopher, 
a Minister of Education, did not see that, if he was 
right, they should also have condemned ^philosophy 
and religion, solely for the sake of tl^e glorification 
of a policy of lying, violence, and absolutism. For 
if philosophy necessarily overthrows the founda- 
tions of the social condition, it is nothing but 
pompous madness, and if religion cannot exist 
except by suppressing the search after truth, it is 
nothing less than a fatal tyranny. Let us try to 
be more just towards both Greek religion and Greek 
philosophy. 

There is one important and striking fact which 
has escaped the notice of most modem historians 
and philosophers. Persecution in Greece, very rare 
against philosophers, was never begun in the 
temples, but was always the work of politicians. 
Hellenic civilisation has known nothing of that war 
between priests and philosophers, which has played 
so great a part in our civilisation, ever since the 
destruction of Christian esotericism in the second 
century of our era. Thales might quietly state 
that the world comes from water ; Heraclitus that 
it springs from fire ; Anaxagoras might say that the 
sun is a mass of incandescent fire, and Democritus 



202 


PLATO 


claim that everything springs from atoms 5 no 
temple suffered uneasiness. In the temples they 
knew all that and much more beside. They also 
knew that the would-be philosophers who denied 
the gods^could not destroy them in the national 
consciousnesj, and that real philosophers believed 
in them after the fashion of the initiates, and saw 
in them the symbols of the mighty categories of the 
spiritual hierarchy, of the Divine which penetrates 
all Nature, and of the Invisible which governs the 
Visible. The esoteric doctrine accordingly served 
as a bond between true philosophy and true religion. 
This is the profound, the primordial and final fact 
which explains their secret meaning in Hellenic 
civilisation. 

Who then accused Socrates ? The priests of 
Eleusis, who had uttered maledictions on those who 
had stirred up the Peloponnesian War, shaking the 
dust of their robes towards the west, did not utter 
a single word against him. The temple of Delphi 
gave him the finest testimony that could be paid 
to any man. The Pythoness, on being consulted 
as to what Apollo thought of Socrates, replied j 
“T here is no man living who is more reasonable, 
free, or jusk ” 1 The two main accusations there- 
fore brought against Socrates : that he corrupted 
1 Xenophon ; Apology of Socrates, 



THE INITIATION OF PLATO 203 

the youth, and did not believe in the gods, were 
only a pretext. On the second charge, the accused 
victoriously answered his judges : “ I believe in 
my familiar spirit ; how much more then must I 
believe in the gods, who are the great^spirits of 
the universe ? ” Then why was there^ such impla- 
cable hatred against the sage ? He had com- 
bated injustice, unmasked hypocrisy, exposed the 
falsehood of so many vain claims. Men excuse all 
vices and atheisms except those which unmask 
themselves. This was why the real atheists, sitting 
at the Areopagus, brought about the death of the 
just and innocent man, by accusing him of the 
crime they were committing. In his admirable de- 
fence, reproduced by Plato, Socrates explains this 
himself with perfect simplicity : “ It is my fruitless 
search for wise men amongst the Athenians, that 
has roused against me so much dangerous hostility ; 
hence all the slanders spread abroad regarding me, 
for those who hear me believe that I know all those 
things regarding which I unmask the ignorance of 
others. ... An active and numerous body of 
intriguers, speaking about me according to an 
arranged plan and with the most seductive elo- 
quence, have long filled your ears with the most 
perfidious reports and unceasingly followed up 
their system of calumny. To-day, they have 



204 


PLATO 


weaned from me Melitus, Anytus, and Lycon. 
Melitus represents the poets, Anytus the politicians 
and artists, and Lycon the orators.” A tragic poet, 
devoid of talent, a wicked fanatical man of wealth, 
and a shameless demagogue, succeeded in obtaining 
sentence of j,death against the best man living. 
This death has immortalised him. He could proudly 
say to his judges : “I believe more in the gods than 
do any of my accusers. It is time to depart, I to 
die, and you to live. Which is the better, God 
alone knows.” 1 4 

Far from shattering true religion and its national 
symbols, Socrates had done everything possible 
to strengthen them. Could his country have 
understood him, he would have been its greatest 
strength and stay. Like Jesus, he died uttering 
words of pardon on his murderers, and became 
the model of martyr sages for the whole of 
humanity ; for he represents the definite advent 
of individual initiation and open science. 

The serene spectacle of Socrates dying for the 
sake of truth, and spending his last hour in con- 
versing with his disciples on the immortality ol the 
soul, sank deep into Plato’s heart. To him it was 
the most beautiful and holy of mysteries, his first 
great initiation. Later in life, he was to study 

1 Plato : Apology of Socrates. 



THE INITIATION OF PLATO 


205 


physics, metaphysics, and many other sciences, but 
he ever remained the disciple of Socrates. He has 
bequeathed us the living image of the latter by 
putting the treasures of his own thought into the 
mouth of his master. This flower of ^modesty 
makes of him the disciple’s ideal, just a^the fire of 
enthusiasm shows him to us as the poet of philo- 
sophers. It avails us nothing to know that he 
founded his school only when fifty years old, and 
died at the age of eighty : we cannot imagine him 
as anything else than young, for eternal youth is 
the portion of those souls which unite divine 
candour with profundity of thought. 

Plato had received from Socrates the great im- 
pulse, the active male principle of his life, his faith 
in justice and truth. He was indebted for the 
science and substance of his ideas to his initiation 
into the Mysteries, and his genius consists in the 
new form, at once poetic and dialectic, he was 
enabled to give to them. He did not receive this 
initiation from Eleusis alone, but sought for it 
from every accessible source. After the death of 
Socrates, he travelled about. He attended the 
lessons of several philosophers in Asia Minor. Then 
he went to Egypt, to come into touch with its 
priests and go through the initiation of Isis. He 
did not reach, as did Pythagoras, the highest stage, 



206 


PLATO 


at which one becomes an adept and acquires an 
effective and direct vision of divine truth, with 
supernatural powers, from an earthly standpoint. 
He stopped at the third stage, which confers perfect 
intellectual clearness, along with the dominion of 
the intellect clover soul and body. Then he went to 
southern Italy to enter into communication with 
the followers of Pythagoras, well knowing that 
Pythagoras had been the greatest sage of Greece. 
He paid an enormous price for one of the master’s 
manuscripts. After thus obtaining from its very 
source the esoteric tradition of Socrates, he borrowed 
from this philosopher his main ideas, and the 
framework of his system . 1 

On returning to Athens, Plato founded his school, 
which remained so famous under the name of the 
Academy. Truth must be spread abroad if he 
wished to continue the work of Socrates. Plato, 
however, could not publicly teach what the 
Pythagoreans covered with a triple veil. Prudence, 

1 " What Orpheus promulgated in obscure allegories/' says 
Proclus, “ Pythagoras taught, after being initiated into the 
Orphic mysteries, and Plato had full knowledge of it from Orphic 
and Pythagorean writings." This opinion of the Alexandrian 
School regarding the filiation of the Platonic ideas, is fully 
confirmed by the comparative study of the Orphic and Pytha- 
gorean traditions, and the writings of Plato. This filiation, kept 
secret for centuries, was revealed only by the Alexandrian 
philosophers, for they were the first to make known the esoteric 
meaning of the Mysteries. 



THE INITIATION OF PLATO 207 

his oaths, and the very end he had in view all for- 
bade this. It is indeed the esoteric doctrine we find 
in his Dialogues , though dissembled and mitigated, 
travestied in legends, myths or parables. Here it 
no longer appears with that imposing, ensemble 
Pythagoras gave to it, and which we ha^at tempted 
to reconstitute, an edifice founded on an immutable 
basis, and all of whose parts are firmly cemented 
together, though in analytical fragments. Plato, 
like Socrates, places himself on the same territory 
as the gay youths of Athens, the rhetoricians and 
sophists. He fights them with their own weapons. 
His genius is never absent, however, for every 
moment he breaks the network of dialectics, like 
an eagle, to mount, in bold flight, to those sublime 
truths which form his native atmosphere and his 
real fatherland. These dialogues have a piquant 
charm, all their own ; in them are found not only 
the enthusiasm of Delphi and Eleusis, but also 
wonderful clearness and Attic wit, the archness 
of the simple-minded Socrates, and the delicate, 
winged irony of the sage. 

Nothing is easier than to recognise the different 
parts of the esoteric doctrine in Plato and at the 
same time to discover the sources from which he 
has obtained them. The doctrine of the idea -types 
of things, as set forth in Phcedrus, is a corollary 



208 


PLATO 


to the doctrine of the Sacred Numbers of Pytha- 
goras . 1 The Timceus gives a very confused and 
obscure account of esoteric cosmogony. The 
doctrine of the soul, its migrations and evolution, 
traverses ihe whole work of Plato, though nowhere 
does it appear so clearly as in The Banquet, in 
Phcedo, and in The Legend of Er in the last book of 
The Republic . We perceive Psyche under a veil, 
but how touching is her beauty, with its exquisite 
form and divine grace, as she shines through it ! 

In Pythagoras, it is seen that^the key of the 
Kosmos, the secret of its constitution throughout, is 
found in the principle of the three worlds, reflected 
by the microcosm and the macrocosm in the human 
and divine ternary. Pythagoras had formulated 
and summed up this doctrine in masterly fashion 
under the symbol of the Sacred Tetrad . This 
doctrine of the living eternal Word, constituted the 
great arcanum, the source of magic, the diamond 
temple of the initiate, his impregnable citadel above 
the ocean of things. In his public teaching, Plato 
neither could nor would reveal this arcanum. First, 
the oath of the mysteries closed his mouth, and 
secondly, all would not have understood; the common 
people would unworthily have profaned this theo- 
gonic mystery, which contains the generation of the 
1 See a fuller exposition of this doctrine in Pythagoras . 



THE INITIATION OF PLATO 209 

worlds. Something else was needed to combat the 
corruption of morals and the mad unbridling of 
political passions. The jfate of the beyond was 
soon about to close, with the great initiation, that 
gate which brings light only to mighty prophets, to 
real initiates. f 

Plato replaced the doctrine of the three worlds 
by three concepts which, in the absence of organised 
initiation, remained for two thousand years, three 
paths leading to the same final goal. These three 
concepts refer alike to the human and the divine 
world ; they possess the advantage of uniting 
them, though in abstract fashion. Here is mani- 
fested the popularising and creative genius of 
Plato. He shed torrents of light over the world, 
setting the ideas of the True, the Beautiful, and the 
Good on the same line. Throwing light on one by 
means of the other, he showed that they are three 
rays starting from the same centre, and that the 
same rays, when they meet one another, recon- 
stitute this very centre, that is to say, God. 

In following after the Good, that is to say, the 
Just, the soul is purified, it prepares itself to know 
Truth. This is the first, the indispensable con- 
dition of its progress. In following after and 
enlarging the idea of the Beautiful, it attains to the 

intellectually Beautiful, that intelligible light, the 
11. 0 



2X0 


PLAl*b 


mother of things, animating all forms, the sub- 
stance and organ of God. As it plunges into the 
soul of the world, the jfcuman soul acquires for 
itself wings. In following after the idea of the 
True, it • ^ttains to pure Essence, the principles 
contained ui pure Spirit. It recognises its im- 
mortality through the identity of its principle with 
the divine principle, Perfection ; the epiphany of 
the soul. 

When he opened up these great paths to the 
human mind, Plato defined and cgeated, outside of 
narrow systems and particular religions, the category 
of the Ideal, which was to replace for centuries, and 
still does, a complete organic initiation. He pre- 
pared the three sacred paths which lead to God, just 
as the sacred way of Athens led to Eleusis through 
the gate of Ceramicus. Having penetrated into the 
interior of the temple with Hermes, Orpheus, and 
Pythagoras, we are better enabled to judge as to 
the solidity and the soundness of these wide roads 
laid down by the divine engineer, Plato. The 
knowledge of Initiation gives us the justification 
and the raison d’etre of Idealism. 

Idealism is the bold affirmation of divine truths 
by the soul, which questions itself in its solitude 
and judges of celestial realities by its inmost faculties 
and inner voices. Initiation is the penetration of 



211 


THE INITIATION OF PLATO 

these truths by the experience of the soul, the 
direct vision of the spirit, th& inner resurrection. 
In the highest degree, it $ the bringing of the soul 
into communication with the divine world. 

The Ideal is a morality, a poetry, and a philosophy; 
Initiation is an action, a vision, the sublime presence 
of Truth. The Ideal is the dream and the regret 
of the divine father-land ; Initiation, that temple 
of the elect, is its distinct remembrance ; its very 
possession. 

Plato, accordingly, when building up the category 
of the Ideal, created a refuge, opened up a way of 
salvation to millions of souls who cannot, in this 
lifetime, attain to direct initiation, but painfully 
aspire after truth. He thus made philosophy the 
vestibule of a future sanctuary, inviting thereto all 
such as were seriously minded. The idealism of 
his numerous pagan or Christian sons appears to us 
the waiting-room, so to speak, of the great initiation. 

This explains the immense popularity and the 
far-reaching influence of Plato’s ideas. Their power 
lies in their esoteric basis. This is the reason the 
Academy of Athens, founded by Plato, lasted for 
centuries and extended into the mighty school of 
Alexandria; this is why the first Fathers of the 
Church paid homage to Plato and why Saint 
Augustine took from him two-thirds of his theology. 



212 


PLATO 


Two thousand years had passed since the disciple 
of Socrates had breathed his last sigh beneath the 
shadow of the Acropolis. Christianity, barbarian 
invasions, the Middle Ages had passed over the 
world. Antiquity, however, was rising again from 
her ashes. Nn Florence the Medicis wished to found 
an Academy, and summoned a Greek servant, an 
exile from Constantinople, to organise it. And 
what name did Marsile Ficin give it ? He called it 
the Platonic Academy. Even in these days, after 
so many philosophic systems, .built upon one 
another, have crumbled to dust, when science has 
reduced matter to its final transformations and 
finds itself face to face with the inexplicable and 
the invisible, Plato has again returned to us. Ever 
simple and modest, though radiant with eternal 
youth, he holds out to us the sacred branch of the 
Mysteries, the branch of myrtle and of cypress 
along with the narcissus : the soul-flower which 
promises divine rebirth in a new Eleusis. 



CHAPTER III 

THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSfs 

In Greek and Latin antiquity, the Eleusinian 
mysteries formed the object of special veneration. 
Those very authors who turned into ridicule the 
mythological fables dared not attack the cult of 
the “great goddesses.” Their reign, whilst less 
boisterous than that of the Olympians, showed 
itself to be more certain and efficacious. In times 
immemorial, a Greek colony from* Egypt had 
brought the cult of the great Isis into the peaceful 
bay of Eleusis, under the name of Demeter, or the 
universal mother. From that time, Eleusis had 
remained a centre of initiation. 

Demeter and her daughter Persephone presided 
over the lesser and the greater mysteries ; hence 
the prestige they acquired. 

Whilst the people revered in Ceres the mother 
earth and the goddess of agriculture, the initiates 
saw in her, celestial light, the mother of souls ; and 
divine Intelligence, the mother of the cosmogonic 
gods. Her cult was served by priests belonging to 

«3 



PLATO 


214 

the most ancient sacerdotal family in Attica. They 
called themselves sons of the Moon, that is to say, 
bom to be mediators between Earth and Heaven, 
and sprung from the sphere where the bridge is 
projected, between the two regions, the bridge along 
which soul^vscend and descend. From the first, 
it had been their function “ to sing, or chant, in 
that abyss of misery, the delights of the heavenly 
abode, and to teach the methods enabling one to 
regain the path.” Hence their name, Eumolpidse, 
“ chanters of beneficent melodies,” gentle re- 
generators of men. The priests of Eleusis always 
taught the great esoteric doctrine which came to 
them from Egypt. As time passed, they invested 
it with all th% charm of a ravishing, plastic mytho- 
logy. With subtle, profound art, those enchanters 
were able to make use of earthly passions, in order 
to express celestial ideas. They put to profit, sense 
attraction, ceremonial pomp, and the seductiveness 
of art, to bring the soul to a better life and the mind 
to a knowledge of divine truth. Nowhere did the 
mysteries appear beneath a form so human, so 
living and coloured. 

The myth of Ceres and of her daughter Proserpine 
formed the heart of the cult of Eleusis . 1 The whole 
of the Eleusinian initiation turns and develops, like 

1 See the Homeric hymn to Demeter. 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 215 

a shining procession, around this luminous circle. 
Now, in its inmost signification, this myth is the 
symbolical representation of the history of the 
soul, its descent into matter, its sufferings in the 
darkness of forgetfulness, and then its ascent and 
return to divine life. In other worj^o, it is the 
drama of the Fall and the Redemption, in its 
Hellenic form. 

It may accordingly be affirmed, on the other hand, 
that, to the cultured Athenian initiate of the time 
of Plato, the mysteries of Eleusis offered the ex- 
planatory complement, the luminous counterpart 
of the tragic performances in Athens. There, in 
the theatre of Bacchus, before the roaring masses 
of people, the terrible incantations of Melpomene 
summoned forth the inhabitant of earth, blinded 
by his passions, pursued by the Nemesis of his 
crimes, and overwhelmed by an implacable and 
often incomprehensible Destiny. And there, too, 
could be seen and heard the Promethean struggles, 
the imprecations of the Furies, the despair of 
(Edipus, and the madness of Orestes. This also 
was the abode of gloomy terror and rueful pity. 
At Eleusis, in the hall of Ceres, everything was 
filled with light ; the circle of things extended for 
the initiates who had become seers. For each soul, 
the history of Psyche-Persephone was a surprising 



2l6 


PLATO 


revelation. Life was explained either as an ex- 
piation or as a test. Both beyond and on this side 
of his earthly present, man discovered the starry 
zones of a divine future and past. After the terrors 
of death r came hope and liberation, Elysian joys ; 
through th<^ porticoes of the wide-open temple 
passed the chants of the blessed, the submerging 
light of a marvellous beyond. 

Such were the Mysteries in the presence of 
Tragedy : the divine drama of the soul completing 
and explaining the terrestrial dranjp of man. 

The Lesser Mysteries were celebrated in the month 
of February, at Agrae, near Athens. Candidates 
who had passed a preliminary examination, and 
given proofs of their birth, education, and honour, 
were received at the entrance to the sacred en- 
closure by the priest of Eleusis named the hieroceryx, 
or sacred herald, resembling Hermes, with the 
petasus on his head and the caduceus in his hand. 
He was the guide, the mediator, and interpreter of 
the Mysteries, and conducted the new-comers to a 
small temple, with Ionic columns, dedicated to 
Kore, the great Virgin, Persephone. The graceful 
sanctuary of the goddess lay hidden in the depths 
of a peaceful vale, surrounded by a sacred wood 
between groups of yew-trees and white poplars. 
Then the priestesses of Proserpine, the hiero- 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 217 

phantids, left the temple, each wearing an imma- 
culate peplus, with bare arms and heads wreathed 
in narcissus blooms. They stood in a line at the 
top of the stairs, and struck up a solemn chant in 
Doric fashion : # 

“ Oh ! candidates of the Mysteries, you have 
now reached the threshold of Proserpine. All you 
are now about to see will surprise you. You will 
learn that your present life is nothing but a tissue 
of lying and confused dreams. The sleep, which 
surrounds you with a zone of darkness, carries off 
your dreams and days in its flow like floating debris 
which vanish before human sight. Beyond, a zone 
of eternal light extends. May Proserpine be pro- 
pitious to you and teach you, herself, to cross the 
river of darkness and advance right to the celestial 
Demeter.” 

Then the prophantid, or prophetess who led the 
choir, descended three steps of the staircase and 
uttered the following malediction in solemn tones 
and with terrifying look : “ Woe be to such as have 
come to profane the Mysteries ! The goddess will 
pursue such perverse hearts during the whole of 
their lifetime, and in the kingdom of the shades she 
will not let go her prey I ” 

Afterwards, several days were spent in fasting, 
ablutions, and prayers. 



2i8 PLATO 

On the evening of the final day, the neophytes 
assembled in the most secret part of the sacred 
wood, there to assist at the rape of Persephone . 
The scene was played in the open air, by the 
priestesse§ of the temple. This custom dated 
from far ba<&, and the basis of this performance, 
as well as its main idea, remained always the 
same, though its form varied greatly throughout 
the course of the ages. In Plato’s time, owing 
to the recent development of tragedy, the former 
hieratic severity had given place t$ a more humane 
and refined taste and to a tendency in which 
passion played a large part. Guided by the hiero- 
phant, the anonymous poets of Eleusis had made 
of this scene a short drama which ran somewhat as 
follows : 

{The neophytes t in couples f reach a glade . In the 
background may be seen rocks and a grotto, surrounded 
by a wood of myrtles and poplars . In front, a meadow , 
with nymphs reclining about a fountain • At the far 
end of the grotto is seated Persephone, naked to the 
girdle , like a Psyche , her graceful bust chastely emerging 
from flowing drapery , wrapped round her like an azure 
vapour . She seems to be happy, quite unconscious of 
her beauty, and is embroidering a long veil of many- 
coloured threads. Demeter her mother stands by her 
side, sceptre in hand and kalathos on her head.) 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 219 

Hermes (the herald of the Mysteries to the 
spectators ). Demeter offers us two excellent 
gifts : the fruits of the earth, that we may not 
live like the beasts of the fields, and initiation, 
which gives a sweeter hope to those who participate 
in it both for the end of this life and fir all eternity. 
Give heed to the words you are about to hear and 
the things you are now to see. 

Demeter (in solemn accents ). Beloved daughter of 
the gods, remain in this grotto and embroider my 
veil until I return. Heaven is thy father-land and 
the universe is thine. Thou seest the gods ; they 
come to thy call. Listen not to the voice of Eros, 
the cunning one, with his mild eyes and treacherous 
counsel. Beware of leaving the grotto or gathering 
the seductive flowers of earth ; their fatal distracting 
perfume would make thee lose the light of heaven 
and even the memory of it. Weave my veil and 
live happily with thy companions, the nymphs, 
until my return. Then I will take thee in my 
chariot of fire, drawn by serpents, right into the 
splendour of the Ether, above the Milky Way. 

Persephone . August and redoubtable mother, by 
this surrounding light so dear to me, I promise it. 
May the gods punish me, if I keep not my oath. 
(Exit Demeter.) 

Chorus of Nymphs. 0 Persephone ! Virgin ! 



220 


PLATO 


Chaste bride of Heaven, thou who embroiderest the 
faces of the gods on thy veil, mayst thou never 
know the empty illusions and countless evils of 
earth. Eternal Truth smiles on thee and Dionysus, 
thy celestial spouse, awaits thee in the Empyrean. 
At times he appears to thee in the form of a distant 
sun ; his rays play about thee ; he breathes thy 
breath and thou drinkest in his light. . . . Already 
do ye possess one another ... O Virgin ! Who 
is happier than thou ? 

Persephone . On this azure veilj with its inter- 
minable folds, I work the innumerable forms of 
beings and of all things with my ivory needle. I 
have finished the history of the gods and em- 
broidered horrible Chaos, with his hundred heads 
and thousand arms, whence mortal beings must 
issue. Then who has given them birth ? The 
Father of the Gods told me that it was Eros, though 
I have never seen him ; I know not his appearance. 
Who will depict me his face ? 

The Nymphs. Think not of that. Wherefore this 
vain question ? 

Persephone ( rising and flinging aside the veil)* 
Eros ! The most ancient and yet the youngest of 
the gods, inexhaustible spring of joys and tears— 
4or this have I been told of thee — thou terrible god, 
alone unknown and invisible of Immortals, and 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 221 

alone desirable, mysterious Eros ! With what a 
giddy terror thy name fills me ! 

The Chorus . Seek not to learn more. Dangerous 
questions have proved the downfall of men and 
even of gods. 

Persephone ( her terror-stricken eyes gazing into 
the void). Is it a past memory, or a frightful 
presentiment ? Chaos . . . men ... the birth- 
cries . . . the mad clamour of hatred and war 
... the abyss of death ! I see and hear it all, 
and the deep calls to me. I must descend. Eros, 
with his flaming torch, plunges me therein. Ah ! 
I am dying I Away from me, this horrible dream ! 
(Covering her face with her hands, she hursts into 
sobs.) 

The Chorus . Oh ! Divine virgin, this is yet but a 
dream, though it would take on a body and become 
inevitable reality, and thy heaven would disappear 
like an empty dream, wert thou to yield to thy 
guilty desire. Obey this salutary warning, take up 
thy needle once more and weave thy veil. Forget 
cunning Eros, impudent, criminal Eros ! 

Persephone (removes her hands from her face , 
which has changed expression; she smiles through 
her tears). How mad you are, and how insensate 
I was ! Now, I remember, I heard in the Olympian 
Mysteries that Eros is the most beautiful of the 



222 


PLATO 


gods ; seated on a winged chariot he presides over 
the evolutions of the Immortals, over the blending 
of the initial essences. It is he who conducts the 
bold and heroic from the depths of Chaos to the 
heights of. the Ether. He knows all ; like the 
Fire-Principle* he passes through all worlds and he 
keeps the keys of earth and heaven I I will see him ! 

The Chorus. Unhappy maiden ! Stop ! 

Eros (issues from the wood in the form of a winged 
youth). Dost thou call me, Persephone ? Here 
I am. 

Persephone ( sitting down again). They say thou 
art cunning, though thy face is innocence itself ; 
all-powerful, though thou resemblest a feeble child ; 
treacherous, and yet the more I look into thine eyes, 
the more my heart overflows with confidence in 
thee, thou pretty, playful child. They say thou art 
knowing and skilful ; canst thou help me to em- 
broider this veil ? 

Eros. Willingly ; I will sit at thy feet. What a 
wonderful veil ! It appears as though it had been 
plunged into the azure of thine eyes. What 
wonderful shapes thine hand has embroidered 
thereon I though less beautiful than the divine 
embroiderer who has never seen herself in a mirror. 
(He smiles roguishly.) 

Persephone. See myself I Would that be pos- 



THE MYSTERIES OF ^ELEUSIS 223 

sible? (She blushes.) Dost thou recognise these 
forms ? 

Eros. Recognise them ! It is the history of the 
gods. But wherefore stop at Chaos ? That is 
where the struggle begins. Wilt thou r#ot weave 
the war with the Titans, the birth of men ajid their 
loves ? 

Persephone. My knowledge stops here, my memory 
fails. Wilt thou help me to embroider the rest ? 

Eros (gives her a burning glance). I will, Perse- 
phone, on one condition. Thou must come with 
me to gather a flower in the meadow, the most 
beautiful of them all ! 

Persephone (serious). My venerable, wise mother 
has forbidden me to do that. “ Do not listen to the 
voice of Eros,” she said. “ Do not gather the flowers 
in the meadow. If thou disobeyest me, thou wilt 
be the most wretched of Immortals ! ” 

Eros. I understand. Thy mother will not have 
thee learn the secrets of earth and hell. Wert thou 
to breathe the flowers of the meadow, they would 
be revealed to thee. 

Persephone. Dost thou know them ? 

Eros, I know them all, and, as thou seest, I am 
only the more youthful and active m consequence. 
0, daughter of the gods, the abyss has terrors and 
horrors which heaven knows nothing of, but he 



224 


PLATO 


cannot understand heaven who has not passed 
.through earth and hell. 

Persephone. Wilt thou enable me to understand 
them ? 

Eros. Yes. Look! (He touches the ground with 
the end of his' bow ; a large narcissus appears.) 

Persephone. What a beautiful flower ! It brings 
back a divine memory, trembling and stirring in 
my heart. Sometimes when asleep on a peak of 
my beloved star, gilded with the glory of an eternal 
sunset, on awaking I have seen, £bove the purple 
horizon, a silvery star floating in the pearly bosom 
of the pale green sky. To me it then seemed as the 
torch of the immortal spouse, the promise of the 
gods, divine Dionysus. But the star went down 
. . . down . . . and the light died away in 
the distance. This wonderful flower resembles that 
star. 

Eros . I who transform and unite all things, who 
make the small in the likeness of the great, and of 
the watery deep the mirror of heaven, who mingle 
heaven and hell on earth and work out all forms 
in the depths of the ocean, I have brought back 
to life thy star from the abyss in the form of a 
flower, that thou mayst touch and 9mell as well 
as pluck it. 

The Chorus. Beware lest this magic be a snare ! 



THE MYSTERIES OF £LEUSlS 225 

Persephone . What is the name of this flower ? 

Eros . Men call it the narcissus ; I call it Desire. 
See how it looks at you and turns in your direction. 
Its white petals quiver as though they were alive ; 
from its golden heart there escapes t a ‘perfume 
which fills the whole atmosphere with * voluptuous 
pleasure. When thou raisest this magical flower 
to thy face, in one wonderful and immense picture 
thou wilt behold the monsters of the abyss, the 
depths of the earth, and the hearts of men. Nothing 
will be hidden from thee. 

Persephone . O marvellous flower, of enrapturing 
odour, how my heart beats and my fingers bum as 
I seize hold of thee. I will breathe thy perfume, I 
will press thee to my lips and place thee on my 
heart — though I were to die for it ! 

(The ground by her side half opens . From the 
dark , gaping fissure , Pluto is seen slowly rising, 
seated in a chariot drawn by two black horses . The 
moment Persephone plucks the flower, he seizes 
her and pulls her violently to his side . In vain 
does she writhe in his arms, raising a loud cry . 
The chariot immediately sinks and disappears. The 
rolling wheels die away in the distance , like sub- 
terranean thunder. Groaning and wailing, the 
nymphs scatter about the woods Eros laughingly 
makes his escape .) 

U. 


p 



226 


PLATO 


The Voice of Persephone (under the earth). 0! 
Mother ! Help ! Help 1 

Hermes . 0 Candidates of the Mysteries, whose 
lives are still clouded over with the fumes of an 
evil life? sjich is your history. Remember and 
meditate oh what Empedocles says : “ Generation 
is a terrible destruction which causes the living to 
pass into the dead. Formerly you lived the true 
life, then drawn by a charm, you fell into the 
terrestrial abyss, subdued by the body. Your 
present is nothing but a fatal dream, the past and 
the future alone really exist. Learn to remember 
and to see ahead.” 

• •••#•* 

During this scene, night had fallen, funeral torches 
were lit between the black cypresses, near the 
entrance to the small temple, and the spectators 
silently departed, followed by the wailing chants 
of the hierophantids, calling : “ Persephone ! Per- 
sephone ! ” The Lesser Mysteries were at an end, 
The neophytes had become mustai, that is to say, 
veiled ones. They were going to return to theii 
usual occupations, but the great veil of the Mysteries 
was spread over their eyes. A cloud had intervened 
between them and the outer world. At the same 
time there had opened in their mind an inner eye 
through which they dimly perceived another world 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 227 

filled with attractive forms, which moved about in 
the abysmal depths of alternate light and darkness. 

The Greater Mysteries which followed, and which 
were also called the Sacred Orgies , were only cele- 
brated once every five years, at Eleusis. • 

The symbolical fetes lasted nine days ; on the 
eighth, the tokens of initiation were distributed to 
the mustai ; these consisted of the thyrsus and a 
basket called a cist, surrounded with ivy leaves. 
This latter contained mysterious objects, the know- 
ledge of which was to give the secret of life. The 
basket itself was carefully sealed ; it could be opened 
only at the end of the initiation and in the presence 
of the hierophant. 

Then they abandoned themselves to a state of 
exultant joy, waved flaming torches in the air, and 
handed them to one another. That same day, the 
statue of Dionysus, wreathed with myrtle-leaves, 
and which was called Iacchos, was carried in pro- 
cession from ^Athens to „ Eleusis. Its arrival at 
Eleusis proclaimed the great renascence, for it re- 
presented the divine spirit penetrating all things, 
the regenerator of souls, the mediator between 
earth and heaven. 

This time they entered the temple through the 
mystic door, there to spend the sacred night, or the 
night of initiation. 



228 


PLATO 


First, they entered a large portico in the outer 
enclosure. There the herald, with terrible threats 
and crying aloud : “ Eskato Bebeloi / Away, ye 
profane I ” drove from the spot such intruders as 
succeeded sometimes in stealthily gliding into the 
enclosure along with the mustai. The latter were 
made to swear, under penalty of death, that they 
would reveal nothing they saw. He added : “ You 
have now come to the subterranean threshold of 
Persephone. To understand the future life and 
your present condition, the kingdom of death must 
have been traversed ; that is the test of the 
initiates. To enjoy the light, you must be able to 
brave the darkness.” Then they put on the fawn 
skin, symbol of the tearing asunder and the lacera- 
tion of the soul, which has been plunged into bodily 
life. Finally they extinguished the torches and 
lamps and entered the subterranean labyrinth. 

At first the mustai groped about in the darkness. 
Soon dreadful sounds wei;e heard, noises and groans. 
The blackness was pierced by flashes of lightning 
accompanied with thunderclaps. By their light 
horrible visions were seen ; sometimes a monster, a 
chimaera or a dragon, then a man writhing in the 
daws of a sphinx, or again a human larva. These 
apparitions were so sudden that there was not time 
to distinguish by what artifice they were produced, 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSlS 229 

and the utter darkness which followed doubled the 
horror of the situation. Plutarch likens the terror 
caused by these visions to the condition of a man 
on his deathbed. 

The strangest scene of all, the one ^ordering on 
real magic, took place in a crypt where a Phrygian 
priest, clad in an Asiatic robe, with vertical stripes, 
red and black in colour, stood before a copper 
brazier, the flickering light from which dimly lit up 
the room. With commanding gesture, he forced all 
to sit down at the entrance, and flung into the 
brazier large handfuls of narcotic perfumes. The 
room was soon filled with thick clouds of smoke, 
and a disordered array of changing forms, both 
human and animal, could soon be distinguished. 
At times long serpents could be seen, stretching out 
into sirens, entangled in endless windings, then 
again voluptuously arched busts of nymphs, with 
outstretched arms, changed into bats ; charming 
heads of youths melted away into dogs’ muzzles. 
All these monsters, in turn beautiful and hideous, 
fluid and afireal, deceptive and unreal, vanishing no 
sooner than they appeared, turned about in chang- 
ln S hues with vertiginous movements and crowded 
round the fascinated mustai as though to prevent 
their passage. From time to time the priest of 
Cybele extended his short wand right in the rpidst 



230 


PLATO 


of the vapours, and the effluvium of his will seemed 
to give the multiform circles a whirling motion and 
disturbed vitality. “ Pass along ! ” said the 
Phrygian. The mustai rose and entered the circle. 
Most of “them felt strange rustlings, others were 
rapidly touched by invisible hands or violently flung 
to the ground. Some drew back in terror and re- 
turned in the direction from which they had come. 
Only the boldest passed on, after several attempts, 
for a strong determination cut styort the charm . 1 


Then they reached a large circular hall through 

1 Contemporary science would see in these facts nothing but 
simple hallucinations or suggestions. The science of antique 
esoterism, however, attributed to this kind of phenomenon, 
which frequently happened in the Mysteries, a value at once 
subjective and objective. It believed in the existence of 
elementary spirits devoid of either reason or an individualised 
soul, semi-conscious, filling the terrestrial atmosphere, the souls 
of the elements, so to speak. Magic, which is really will power 
acting in the control of occult forces, makes them visible at 
times. It is of them that Heraclitus speaks when he says: 
“ Nature is everywhere full of demons.” Plato calls them 
“ demons of the elements ; ” Paracelsus, “ elementals.” Accord- 
ing to this theosophist doctor of the sixteenth century, they are 
attracted by the magnetic atmosphere of man, become electri- 
fied, and are then capable of assuming every shape imaginable. 
The more enslaved a man is to his passions, the more com- 
pletely does he become their prey, without any suspicion of the 
fact. The magus alone tames and makes use of them. They 
constitute, however, a sphere of deceptive illusion and folly 
which must be mastered and overcome on one's entrance into 
the occult world. Bulwer Lytton called them ” guardians o 
the threshold,” in his curious novel, Zanoni. 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 231 

which a few torches shed a ghastly light. In the 
centre stood a single column, a bronze tree whose 
metallic foliage extended over the whole ceiling. 1 In 
this foliage were inlaid figures of the chimaera and 
of the sphinx, owls and harpies and gorgqps, speak- 
ing images of every terrestrial ill, of every demon 
that attacks mankind. These monsters, repro- 
duced in shining metal, twine about the branches 
and seem to be watching their prey from above. 
On a magnificent throne at the foot of the tree sits 
Pluto-Aldoneus, clad in a purple mantle. In his 
hand is a trident ; an anxious look overcasts his 
brow. By the side of the king of the Infernal 
Regions, who never smiles, sits his bride, Persephone, 
tall and graceful. The mustai recognise in her the 
features of the hierophantid, who had already re- 
presented the goddess in the Lesser Mysteries. She 
is still as beautiful as ever, perhaps even more 
beautiful in her sadness, though how greatly 
changed beneath her golden diadem, in her mourning 
robe, with its silver tears. No longer is she the 
virgin of the Grotto ; now she is acquainted with 
life below, and suffers in consequence. She reigns 
over the infernal powers, she is queen over the dead, 

1 This is the tree of dreams mentioned by Virgil in the descent 
of ASneas into the infernal regions in the Sixth Book of the 
which reproduces the principal scenes of the Mysteries 
of Eleusis, with poetical amplifications. 



232 PLATO 

% 

though a stranger in her own empire. A pale smile 
illumines her face, overcast by the shadow of Hell. 
Ah ! in that smile lies the knowledge of Good and 
of Evil, the inexpressible charm of a grief that has 
been felt and is now dumb. Suffering teaches pity ; 
so she welcomes with looks of compassion the 
mustai, who kneel before her and lay wreaths of 
narcissus at her feet. Then there flashes from her 
eyes a dying flame, a lost hope, the distant memory 
of heaven ! 

Suddenly, at the end of an ascending passage, 
torches shine forth, and in trumpet tones a voice 
exclaims : “ Welcome, mustai ! Iacchos has re- 

turned ! Demeter awaits her daughter. Evoh6 ! ” 
The sonorous subterranean echoes repeat the cry. 
Persephone sits upright on her throne, as though 
suddenly starting from a long sleep, under the im- 
pulse of a dazzling thought : “ Light ! Mother ! 
Iacchos ! ” She makes a forward movement ; but 
Aidoneus gently touches the hem of her garment 
and she falls back, like a corpse, on to the throne. 
Then the torches suddenly flicker away and expire 
and a voice exclaims : “ To die is to be bom again ! 99 
The mustai press along the gallery of the heroes and 
the demi-gods, to the opening of the subterranean 
passage, where the Hermes and the torch-bearer 
await them. Their fawn skins are removed ; clad 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 233 

in fresh linen, they are sprinkled with lustral water, 
and conducted into the splendidly lit temple, where 
the hierophant, the high priest of Eleusis, a majestic 
old man, clothed in purple, receives them. 

And now let us listen to Porphyrus, as he relates 
the supreme initiation of Eleusis : 

“ Wreathed in myrtle, we enter, along with the 
other initiates, into the vestibule of the temple, 
still blind, though the hierophant within will soon 
open our eyes. First, however — for we must do 
nothing hurriedly — let us lave ourselves in the 
sacred water, for it is with clean hands and a pure 
heart that we are invited to enter the sacred spot. 
Led before the hierophant, he reads to us from a 
stone book, things we must not divulge under the 
penalty of death. I may only say that they are 
in perfect harmony with the place and the circum- 
stances. You would perhaps smile were you to 
hear them outside the temple, but here you have 
no inclination to smile as you listen to the words 
of the old man and look at the symbols revealed. 1 
And you are far from smiling when Demeter con- 
firms, in her special language and her signals, by 

1 The golden objects contained in the cist were : the pine- 
apple (the symbol of fecundity and of generation) ; the spiral 
serpent (universal evolution of the soul : fall into matter atid 
redemption by the spirit) ; the egg, recalling the divine sphere 
or perfection, the aim and end of man. 



PLATO 


234 

vivid sparkling lights and clouds piled upon clouds 
everything we have seen and heard from her sacred 
priest ; finally the light of a serene wonder fills the 
temple, we see the shining Elysian fields ; then it 
is not only by an external appearance or a philo- 
sophical interpretation, but in fact and reality that 
the hierophant becomes the creator (&rnuovpy6<}) 
and revealer of all things ; the Sun is only his 
torch-bearer, the Moon, his officiating priest before 
the altar, and Hermes, his mystic jherald. But the 
final word has been uttered : Konx Om Pax. 1 

The rite is now over, and we are Seers (Mnrai) 
for ever. 

And then, what did the chief hierophant say? 
What sacred, supreme revelation had he to give ? 

The initiates learned that divine Persephone, 
whom they had seen in all the terror and punishment 
of the infernal regions, was the image of the human 
soul, chained to matter in this life, or given up in 
the next to even greater torments, if it has been 

1 These mysterious words have no meaning in Greek, proving 
at any rate that they are very ancient and come from the East. 
Wilford gives them a Sanscrit origin. Konx, from Kansha, 
signifies the object of the strongest desire ; Om, from Own, the 
soul of Brahma ; and Pax from Pasha, turn, ohange, cycle. 
The final benediction of the hierophant of Eleusis accordingly 
meant : May thy desires be fulfilled ; return to the universal 
soul I 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 235 

living a slave to its passions. Its earth life is an 
expiation or a test of former existences. The soul, 
however, may purify itself by discipline; it may 
remember and foresee by the combined effort of 
reason, intuition, and will, and share beforehand in 
the great truths of which it must take full and 
entire possession in the immense beyond. Then 
only will Persephone become once more the ineffable 
Virgin, pure and light-giving, distributor of love and 
joy. Ceres, her mother in the Mysteries, was the 
symbol of divine Intelligence and of the intellectual 
principle in man, which the soul must rejoin, in 
order to attain to perfection. 

If Plato, Iamblichus, Proclus, and all the 
Alexandrian philosophers are to be believed, the 
dite of the initiates had visions of a marvellous 
and ecstatic nature inside the temple. I have 
already quoted the testimony of Porphyry ; listen 
now to that of Proclus : “ In all initiations and 
mysteries, the gods (here this word means all orders 
of spirits) show many forms of themselves and 
appear in a great variety of shapes, sometimes in 
a formless light, then again the light assumes a 
human form, and at times a different one .” 1 Hear 
the following passage from Apuleius : “ I ap- 

1 Proclus ; Commentary on the Republic of Platp. 



PLATO 


236 

proached the confines of death, and after reaching 
the threshold of Proserpine, I returned, borne along 
through all elements (elementary spirits of earth, 
water, air, and fire). In the midnight darkness I 
saw the sun beaming with radiant light and at the 
same time the lower and higher gods. As I drew 
near these divinities, I paid them the tribute of 
pious adoration.” 

Although such witness is vague and indefinite, it 
appears to refer to occult phenomena. According 
to the doctrine of the Mysteries the ecstatic visions 
of the temple were produced through the purest 
of elements : spiritual light assimilated to celestial 
Isis. The oracles of Zoroaster call it, Nature speak- 
ing by itself, that is to say, an element by which the 
Magus gives visible and instantaneous expression to 
thought and which serves alike as body and raiment 
for the souls which are the finest thoughts of God. 
This is the reason the hierophant, if he had power to 
produce this phenomenon, the bringing of initiates 
into relation with the souls of heroes and gods 
(angels and archangels), was at this time likened 
to the Creator, the Demiurgus ; the Torch-bearer 
to the Sun, that is to say, to superphysical light ; 
and the Hermes to the divine word which is his 
interpreter. Whatever these visions might have 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 237 

been, antiquity is of one voice regarding the serene 
exaltation produced by the final revelations of 
Eleusis. A happiness hitherto unknown, peace 
beyond human power to bestow, entered the hearts 
of the initiates. Life seemed to havo been con- 
quered, the soul set free, and the redoubtable cycle 
of existences brought to completion. All met 
again with unalloyed joy and ineffable certainty 
in the pure ether of the universal soul. 

We have just revived the drama of Eleusis, 
giving its inner, secret meaning. I have given 
some indication of the guiding thread leading 
through this labyrinth, and shown the great unity 
which dominates its complexity. In wise and 
sovereign harmony, a strict bond united the varied 
ceremonies to the divine drama, which formed 
the ideal centre, the luminous centre of these 
religious fftes. In this way the initiates gradually 
identified themselves with action. From being 
simple spectators, they became actors, finally re- 
cognising that the drama of Persephone was being 
enacted within themselves. What joy and surprise 
there was in this discovery ! If they suffered and 
struggled with her in this present life, like her they 
also had the hope of regaining divine felicity, the 
light of the great Intelligence. The words of the 



PLATO 


238 

hierophant, the scenes and revelations of the temple, 
had given them a foretaste of it all. 

It goes without saying that each understood 
these things according to his degree of culture and 
intellectual, capacity. For, as Plato says — and this 
is true for all time — few are the inspired, though 
many bear the thyrsus and the wand. After the 
time of Alexander, the Eleusinia were, to a certain 
extent, subjected to pagan decadence, but their 
sublime basis remained, saving Ahem from the 
downfall which came over the other temples. By 
their profoundly sacred doctrines and the splendour 
of their presentation, the Mysteries held their own 
for three centuries against a rising Christianity. 
Then they brought together an elite of disciples, 
who, though not denying that Jesus was a mani- 
festation of heroic and divine order, were unwilling 
to forget, as the Church of the day was already 
doing, the ancient science and sacred doctrine. 
An edict of Theodosius the Great, commanding that 
the temple of Eleusis be razed to the ground, was 
needed to bring to an end this august cult, in which 
the magic of Greek art had incorporated the loftiest 
teaching of Orpheus, Pythagoras, and Plato. 

Nowadays, the refuge of Demeter of old has 
disappeared, leaving no trace behind, in the silent 



THE MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS 239 

Bay of Eleusis, and the butterfly alone, Psyche’s 
winged insect, as it flits across the azure gulf in 
the warm days of spring, calls back to memory that 
here, in former times, the human Soul, the great 
Exile, evoked the gods and recognised her eternal 
home. 




JESUS 


THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 



THE MISSION OF THE CHRIST 


“ I came not to destroy the Law and the Prophets , but 
to fulfil them.”— Matthew v. 17. 

u The Light was in the worlds and the world was 
made by it , but the world knew it not ” — John i. 10. 

“ As the lightning cometh out of the east f and shineth 
even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son 
of man be?— Matthew xxiv. 27. 



PREFACE 


Criticism on the life of Jesus during the past 
century has been greatly to the fore. A complete 
account of this criticism will be found in the lumi- 
nous sketch made by M. Sabatier , 1 in which the 
entire history and present state of this investigation 
are given. Sufficient for the moment to refer to 
the two principal phases supplied by Strauss and 
Renan, with the object of determining the new 
point of view I now wish to offer. 

Departing from the philosophical school of 
Hegel to ally himself with the critical and his- 
torical one of Bauer, Strauss, without denying the 
existence of Jesus, endeavoured to prove that his 
life, as related in the Gospels, is a myth, a legend 
created by popular imagination, to meet the neces- 
sities of a rising Christianity, and in accordance 
with Old Testament prophecy. His position, a 
purely negative one, but which he defended with 
great skill and erudition, has been found true in 
certain details, but quite untenable in its entirety 

1 Dictionnaire des Sciences RUigimses , par Lichtenberger, tome 7, 
article “Jesui/* 



244 


PREFACE 


and essential elements. It has, in addition, the 
grave defect of explaining neither the character of 
Jesus nor the origin of Christianity. The life of 
Jesus, according to Strauss, is a planetary system 
without $ sun. One merit, however, must be 
granted this ‘work, that of having transferred the 
problem from the region of dogmatic theology to 
that of textual and historical criticism. 

M. Renan's Vie de Jesus owes its brilliant suc- 
cess to its lofty aesthetic and literary qualities, 
as well as to the boldness of thfe writer, the first 
who dared make the life of the Christ a problem of 
human psychology. Has he solved the problem ? 
After the dazzling success of the book, the general 
opinion of all serious critics has been in the nega- 
tive. The Jesus of M. Renan begins his career as a 
gentle dreamer, an enthusiastic but simple-minded 
moralist ; he ends it as a violent thaumaturgist, 
devoid of all idea of reality. “ In spite of all the 
precautions of the historian," says M. Sabatier, 
« it is the march of a healthy mind in the direction 
of madness. The Christ of M. Renan hovers be- 
tween the calculations of ambition and the dreams 
of a seer." The fact is that he becomes the Messiah 
without wishing — almost without knowing — it. He 
permits himself to be given this name merely to 
please the apostles and to fulfil the popular wish. 
It is not with so feeble a faith that a true prophet 
creates a new religion and changes the soul of the 



PREFACE 


245 


earth. The life of Jesus, according to M. Renan, 
is a planetary system illumined by a pallid sun 
devoid of vivifying magnetism or creative heat. 

How did Jesus become the Messiah ? That is 
the primordial question, the solution of which is 
essential to the right understanding of the Christ ; 
it is also that before which M. Renan hesitated and 
turned aside. M. Theodore Keim saw that this 
question must be boldly faced ( Das Leben Jesu , 
Zurich, 1875, 3rd edition). His life of Jesus is 
the most remarkable that has appeared since 
M. Renan's. It throws on the question all the 
light given by texts and history esoterically inter- 
preted. But the problem is not one capable of 
being solved without the aid of intuition and 
esoteric tradition. 

It is by means of this esoteric light, the inner 
flame of all religions, the central truth of all fruitful 
philosophy, that I have attempted to reconstruct 
along its main lines, the life of Jesus, taking into 
account all the previous historical criticism that 
has hitherto cleared and prepared the ground. No 
need to define what I mean by the esoteric point 
of view, the synthesis of Religion and Science. 
Concerning the historical and relative value of the 
Gospels, I have taken the three synoptical Gospels 
(those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as a basis, 
and that of John as the arcanum of the esoteric 
teaching of the Christ, at the same time acknow- 



PREFACE 


246 

ledging the later language and form, and the 
symbolical tendency of this Gospel. 

All four Gospels, which should be rectified 
one by another, are equally authentic, though 
with different claims. Those of Matthew and 
Mark are precious gospels of letter and fact; 
therein are to be found the public deeds and 
words of the Christ. The gentle Luke affords a 
glimpse of the mystery-meaning beneath the poeti- 
cal legend-veil ; it is the Gospel of the Soul, of 
Woman, and of Love. Saint John unfolds these 
mysteries ; in his Gospel are to be found the inner 
depths of the doctrine, the secret teaching, the 
meaning of the promise, the esoteric reserve. 
Clement of Alexandria, one of the few Christian 
bishops who held the key to universal esoterism, 
rightly named it the Gospel of the Spirit. John 
has a profound insight into the transcendent truths 
revealed by the Master, and a great facility in 
presenting them. Accordingly, his symbol is the 
Eagle, whose wing cleaves the firmament, and 
whose flaming eye sounds the depths of space. 



JESUS, THE LAST GREAT 
INITIATE 

CHAPTER I 

CONDITION OP THE WORLD AT THE 
BIRTH OF JESUS 

A solemn period of the world’s destiny was 
approaching ; the sky was overshadowed with 
darkness and filled with sinister omens. 

In spite of the efforts of the initiates, poly- 
theism, throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe, had 
terminated only in the downfall of civilisation. 
The sublime cosmogony of Orpheus, so gloriously 
chanted by Homer, had not been attained, and the 
only explanation possible is that human nature 
found great difficulty in maintaining a certain in- 
tellectual altitude. For the great spirits of anti- 
quity, the gods were never anything more than 
4 poetical expression of the subordinated forces 



248 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

of Nature, a speaking image of its inner organism ; 
it is as symbols of cosmic and animic forces that 
these gods live indestructible in the consciousness 
of humanity. This diversity of gods and forces, 
the initiates thought, was dominated and pene- 
trated by the supreme God or pure Spirit. The 
principal aim of the sanctuaries of Memphis, 
Delphi, and Eleusis had been precisely the teach- 
ing of this unity of God with the theosophical ideas 
and moral discipline resulting therefrom. 

But the disciples of Orpheus, Pythagoras, and 
Plato failed before the egoism of the politicians, 
the sordidness of the sophists, and the passions of 
the mob. The social and political decomposition 
of Greece was the consequence of its religious, 
moral, and intellectual decomposition. Apollo, the 
Solar Word, the manifestation of the supreme God 
and the supra-terrestrial world, is silent. No more 
oracles, no more inspired poets are to be heard! 
Minerva, Wisdom and Foresight, veils her coun- 
tenance in presence of her people converted into 
Satyrs, profaning the mysteries, and insulting the 
gods in Aristophanic farces on the stage of Bacchus. 
The very mysteries themselves are corrupted, for 
sycophants and courtesans are admitted to the 
Eleusinian rites. . . . When soul becomes blunted, 
religion falls into idolatry ; when thought becomes 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 249 

materialised, philosophy degenerates into scepti- 
cism. Thus we see Lucian, poor microbe born 
from the corpse of paganism, turn the myths into 
ridicule, when once Carneades had denied their 
scientific origin. 

Superstitious in religion, agnostic in philosophy, 
egoistical and divided in politics, reeling under an- 
archy and fatally abandoned to despotism, Greece 
had become sadly changed from the time when she 
transmitted the science of Egypt and the mysteries 
of Asia in immortal forms of beauty. 

If there was one who understood what the world 
needed, and who endeavoured to restore this need 
by an effort of heroic genius, that one was Alex- 
ander the Great. This legendary conqueror, initi- 
ated, as was also his father, Philip, into the mysteries 
of Samothrace, proved himself even more of an 
intellectual son of Orpheus than a disciple of 
Aristotle. Doubtless, the Achilles of Macedonia, 
who, accompanied by a mere handful of Greeks, 
crossed Asia as far as India, dreamed of universal 
empire, but not after the fashion of the Caesars, by 
oppression of the people, and the destruction of 
religion and unfettered science. His grand idea 
was to reconcile Asia and Europe by a synthesis 
of religions, supported by scientific authority. 
Impelled by this thought, he paid homage to the 



*50 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

science of Aristotle, as he did to the Minerva of 
Athens, the Jehovah of Jerusalem, the Egyptian 
Osiris, and the Hindu Brahma, recognising, as 
would a veritable initiate, an identical divinity and 
wisdom beneath these differing symbols. This new 
Dionysus possessed a broad sympathy and mighty 
prophetic insight. Alexander's sword typified the 
last flash of the Greece of Orpheus, illumining 
both East and West. The son of Philip died in 
the intoxication of victory and the glorious accom- 
plishment of his dream, leaving Hie shreds of his 
empire to selfish and rapacious generals. But his 
thought did not die with him; he had founded 
Alexandria, where Oriental Philosophy, Judaism, 
and Hellenism were to be fused in the crucible 
of Egyptian esoterism, until the time might be ripe 
for the resurrection word of the Christ. 

In proportion as Apollo and Minerva, the twin 
constellations of Greece, paled away on the horizon, 
the people saw a menacing sign, the Roman She- 
Wolf, rise in the troubled sky. 

What is the origin of Rome ? The conspiracy 
of a greedy oligarchy, in the name of brute force ; 
the oppression of the human intellect, of religion, 
science, and art, by deified political power: in 
other words, the contrary of truth, by which a 
government receives its justification, according to 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 251 

the supreme principles of science, justice, and 
economy. 1 

The whole of Roman history is merely the con- 
sequence of the iniquitous pact by which the 
Conscript Fathers declared war, first, against Italy, 
and afterwards against the whole Roman race. 
They chose a fitting symbol ; for the brazen She- 
Wolf, with tawny hair erect, and hyena's head 
turned in the direction of the Capitol, is the image 
of this government, the demon which will take 
possession of the Roman soul to the very end. 

In Greece, at least, the sanctuaries of Delphi and 
Eleusis were long respected; at Rome, from the 
very outset, science and art were rejected. The 
attempt of the sage Numa, the Etruscan initiate, 
failed before the suspicious ambition of the Con- 
script Fathers. He brought with him the Sibylline 
books, which contained part of the science of 
Hermes, appointed magistrates elected by the 
people, distributed territory, and submitted the 
right of declaring war to the Fecial priests. 
Accordingly, King Numa, long cherished in the 
memory of the people, who regarded him as in- 

1 This point of view, in diametrical opposition to the empiric school 
of Aristotle and Montesquieu, was that of the great initiates, the 
Egyptian priests, as of Moses and Pythagoras. It had been previously 
amplified in the Mission des Juifs of M. Saint -Yves. See his remark- 
*ble chapter on the foundation of Rome. 



252 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

spired by divine genius, seems to be a historical 
intervention of sacred science in the government. 
He does not represent the genius of Rome, but 
rather that of the Etruscan initiation, which fol- 
lowed the s^me principles as the school of Memphis 
and Delphi. 

After Numa, the Roman Senate burnt the Sibyl- 
line Books, ruined the authority of the flamens, 
destroyed arbitral institutions, and returned to its 
old systems in which religion was nothing more 
than an instrument of public domination. Rome 
became the hydra which engulfed the peoples and 
their gods with them. The nations of the earth 
were gradually reduced to subjection and pillage. 
The Mamertine prison became filled with kings 
from North and South. Rome, bent on having 
no other kings than slaves and charlatans, destroys 
the final possessors of esoteric tradition in Gaul, 
Egypt, Judea, and Persia. She pretends to worship 
the gods, but the only object of her adoration is 
the She- Wolf. And now, away on the blood-stained 
dawn, there appears the final offspring of this 
ravenous creature, the embodiment of the genius 
of Rome — Caesar l Rome has conquered all the 
nations of the earth, Caesar, her incarnation, arro- 
gates to himself universal power. He aspires not 
merely to become the ruler of mankind, for, uniting 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 253 

the tiara with the diadem, he causes himself to be 
proclaimed Chief Pontiff. After the Battle of 
Thapsus, deification as a hero is voted him, after 
that of Munda, divine apotheosis is granted by 
the Senate ; his statue is erected in thjj temple of 
Quirinus, and a college of officiating priests ap- 
pointed, bearing his name. To crown all in irony 
and logic, this very Caesar who deifies himself, 
denies in the presence of the Senate the im- 
mortality of the soul ! Would it be possible to 
proclaim more openly that there is no longer 
any other God than Caesar ? 

Under the Caesars, Rome, inheritor of Babylon, 
extends her power over the whole world. What 
has become of the Roman State ? It is engaged 
in destroying all collective life outside the capital. 
Military dictatorship is the order of the day in 
Italy, extortions of governors and tax-collectors 
in the provinces. Conquering Rome feeds like a 
vampire on the corpse of a worn-out system. 

And now the Roman orgies are freely and 
publicly paraded with all their bacchanalia of vice 
and crime. They begin with the voluptuous meeting 
of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and will be brought 
to an end with the debaucheries of Messalina and 
the mad frenzy of Nero. They signalise their 
presence by a lascivious and public parody of 



254 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

the mysteries, and are destined to close in the 
Roman Circus, where nude virgins, martyrs to 
their faith, are torn to pieces and devoured by 
savage beasts, amid the plaudits of thousands of 
spectators.^ 

And yet, among the nations conquered by Rome, 
there was one which called itself the people of 
God, whose genius was the very opposite to that 
of Rome. How comes it that Israel, worn out 
by intestine strife, crushed by three centuries of 
slavery, had preserved its indomitable faith ? Why 
did this conquered people rise, prophet-like, to 
oppose Greek decadence and Roman orgies ? 
Whence did they derive the courage to predict 
the fall of the masters who had their feet on the 
throat of the nation, and speak of some vague 
jpinal triumph, when they themselves were draw- 
ing to an irremediable ruin ? The reason was, 
that a great idea, inspired by Moses, lived in 
the nation. Under Joshua, the twelve tribes had 
erected a commemorative pillar with the inscrip- 
tion, “This is a testimony between us that 
Jehovah is God alone/' 

The law-maker of Israel had made monotheism 
the corner-stone of his science and social law, as 
well as of a universal religious idea. He had had 
the genius to understand that on the triumph of 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 255 

this idea the future of mankind would depend. To 
preserve it, he had written a hieroglyphic book, con- 
structed a golden ark, and raised up a people from 
the nomad dust of the wilderness. Not content 
with these witnesses to the spiritualistic idea Moses 
brought down the lightning flash and the thunder- 
bolt from heaven. Against them conspired not 
only the Moabites, the Philistines, the Amalekites, 
and all the tribes of Palestine, but even the frailties 
and passions of the Jewish people itself. The Book 
ceased to be understood by the priesthood; the 
ark was captured by enemies, numerous were the 
times when the people almost forgot their mission. 
Why then, in spite of all, did they remain faithful 
to this mission ? Why had the idea of Moses 
remained graven on the brow and heart of 
Israel in letters of fire? To whom is due this 
exclusive perseverance, this magnificent fidelity 
amid the vicissitudes of a troubled history, such 
a fidelity as gave Israel a unique character among 
the nations ? It may boldly be attributed to the 
prophets and the institution of prophecy ; by oral 
tradition it may be traced back to Moses. The 
Hebrew people has had Nabi at all periods of 
its history, right to its dispersion. But the insti- 
tution of prophecy appears first under an organic 
form at the time of Samuel. He it was who 



256 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

founded the confraternities of Nebiim, those schools 
of prophets, in the face of a rising royalty and 
an already degenerate priesthood. He made them 
austere guardians of the esoteric tradition and 
the universal religious thought of Moses against 
the kings, in whom the political idea and national 
aim was to predominate. In these confraternities 
were preserved the relics of the science of Moses, 
the sacred music, the occult art of healing, and 
finally, the art of divination, exercised by the great 
prophets with masterly force, and Abnegation. 

Divination has existed under the most diverse 
forms among all the peoples of the ancient cycle ; 
but prophecy in Israel possesses an amplitude, a 
loftiness and authority, belonging to the intellectual 
and spiritual realm in which monotheism keeps the 
human soul. Prophecy, represented by the theo- 
logians, literally, as the direct communication of a 
personal God, denied by naturalistic philosophy 
as pure superstition, is in reality nothing but the 
superior manifestation of the universal laws of the 
Spirit. “The general truths which govern the 
world/' says Ewald, in his fine work on the pro- 
phets, “in other terms, the thoughts of God \ are 
immutable and incapable of attack, quite indepen- 
dent of the fluctuations of things, and of the will 
and action of men. Man is originally intended to 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 257 

•St 

participate in them, and translate them freely into 
acts. But for the Word of the Spirit to enter into 
carnal man, he must be fundamentally influenced 
by the great commotion of history. Then the 
Eternal Truth springs forth like a flash of light. 
This is why we so often read in the Old Testament 
that Jehovah is a living God. When man listens to 
the divine call, a new life is created in him ; now 
he no longer feels himself alone, but in communion 
with God and all truth, ready to proceed eternally 
from one verity to another. In this new life, his 
thought becomes one with the universal will. He 
possesses a clear grasp of the present, and entire 
faith in the final success of the divine idea. The 
man who experiences this is a prophet, ue. he feels 
himself irresistibly impelled to manifest himself 
before others as a representative of God. His 
thought becomes vision, and this superior might 
which forces the truth from his soul, at times with 
heart-breaking anguish, constitutes the prophetic 
element. The prophetic manifestations , throughout 
history, have been the thunderbolts and lightning 
flashes of truth” 1 

From this* spring, those giants, Elijah, Isaiah, 
Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, drew their might. Deep in 
their caves or in the palaces of the kings, they 

1 Ew*ld, Die ProphtUn ; Introduction. 



258 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

* 

were indeed sentinels of Jehovah, and^as Elisha 
said to his master Elijah, “the chariots of Israel, 
and the horsemen thereof." Often do they fore- 
tell with prophetic vision the death of kings, the 
fall of kingdoms, and the punishments to be visited 
on Israel. At times they are mistaken. The pro- 
phetic torch, though lit by the sun of divine truth, 
will vacillate and darken in their hands under the 
influence of national passion. But never do they 
waver concerning moral truths, the real mission of 
Israel, the final triumph of justice^o mankind. As 
true initiates, they preach their scorn of outer 
worship, the abolition of sacrifices of blood, the 
purification of the soul, and the practice of love. 
It is with regard to the final triumph of monotheism, 
its liberating and peace-bringing role to all nations, 
that their vision is truly remarkable. The most 
frightful misfortunes that can strike a nation, foreign 
invasion, captivity in Babylon, cannot shake their 
faith. Listen to what Isaiah said during the invasion 
of Sennacherib : — 

“Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with 
her, all ye that love her : rejoice for joy with her, 
all ye that mourn for her. 

“That ye may suck and be satisfied with the 
breasts of her consolations ; that ye may milk out 
and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 259 

“ For ffius saith the Lord, Behold I will extend 
peace to her like a river, and the glory of the 
Gentiles like a flowing stream : then shall ye suck, 
ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled 
upon her knees. 

“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will 
I comfort you ; and ye shall be comforted in 
Jerusalem. 

“ And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, 
and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and 
the hand of the Lord shall be known towards his 
servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. 

“ For behold, the Lord will come with fire and 
with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his 
anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 

“For by fire and by his sword will the Lord 
plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord 
shall be many. 

“They that sanctify themselves, and purify them- 
selves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, 
eating swine's flesh, and the abomination and the 
mouse shall be consumed together, saith the 
Lord. 

“ For I know their work and their thoughts : it 
shall come that I will gather all nations and 
tongues ; and they shall come and see my glory/' 1 

1 Ittiah Ixvi. 10-18. 



260 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

It is only before the tomb of the Christ that this 
vision begins to find realisation, but who could 
deny its prophetic truth when thinking of the part 
Israel played in the history of mankind ? 

No less firm than this faith in the future of 
Jerusalem, in its moral grandeur and religious 
universality, is the faith of the prophets in a 
Saviour or a Messiah. They all speak of him ; the 
incomparable Isaiah is still the one whose vision is 
clearest, and who depicts it with greatest force in 
bold, lofty language : — 

“ There shall come forth a rod out of the stem 
of Jesse, and a branch shall* grow out of his 
roots ; 

" And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, 
the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit 
of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and 
of the fear of the Lord ; 

u And shall make him of quick understanding in 
the fear of the Lord, and he shall not judge after 
the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing 
of his ears : 

“ But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, 
and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth : 
and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his 
mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay 
the wicked* 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 261 

“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his 
loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins/' 1 

Before this vision, the gloomy soul of the prophet 
becomes calm and clear, as does a tempest-troubled 
sky after a storm. For now it is indeed the image 
of the Galilean which is present before his inner 
vision : — 

44 For he shall grow up before him as a tender 
plant and as a root but of a dry ground : he hath 
no form nor comeliness ; and when we shall see 
him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 

44 He is despised and rejected of men, a man of 
sorrows and acquainted with grief : and we hid as 
it were our faces from him ; he was despised and 
we esteemed him not. 

14 Surely he hath born our griefs and carried 
our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, 
smitten of God and afflicted. - 

44 But he was wounded for our transgressions ; 
he was bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement 
of our peace was upon him ; and with his stripes 
we are healed. 

u All we like sheep have gone astray ; we have 
turned every one to his own way ; and the Lord 
hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

" He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he 
Icaiah xi. 1-5. 



262 JESUS, the last great initiate 

opened not his mouth ; he is brought as a lamb 
to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers 
is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 

“ He was taken from prison and from judgement : 
and who shall declare his generation ? for he was 
cut off out of the land of the living : for the trans- 
gression of my people was he stricken/’ 1 

For eight centuries the thunder-words of the 
prophets caused the idea and image of the Mes- 
siah to hover above all national dissensions and 
misfortunes, at times under the form of a terrible 
avenger, and again as an angel of mercy. The 
Messianic idea, tenderly nurtured under Assyrian 
despotism in Babylonian exile, and brought to 
light under Persian domination, continued to grow 
under the reign of the Seleucides and the Mac- 
cabees. When the Roman rule and the reign of 
Herod came, the Messiah was alive in the con- 
sciousness of all. The great prophets had seen 
him as a great man, a martyr, a veritable son of 
God ... the people, faithful to the Judaic idea, 
imagined him as a David, a Solomon, or a new 
Maccabeus. Whatever he might be, this restorer 
of Israel’s greatness was believed in and expected 
by all. Such is the might of prophetic action. 

Thus we see that just as Roman history ends in 

1 Isaiah UU. 2-8. 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 263 

Caesar, along the instinctive path and infernal logic 
of Destiny, so the history of Israel leads freely to 
the Christ along the conscious path and divine 
logic of Providence, manifested in its visible repre- 
sentatives, the prophets. Evil is fatally f ondemned 
to contradict and destroy itself, for it’ is the False ; 
but Good, in spite of all obstacles, engenders light 
and harmony after a lapse of time, for it is the fruit 
of Truth. From her triumph Rome obtained 
nothing but Caesarism, from her downfall Israel 
gave birth to the Messiah. 

A vague expectancy hung over the nations. In 
the excess of its evil all humanity had a presenti- 
ment of a saviour. For centuries mythology had 
dreamt of a divine child. The temples spoke of 
him in mystery ; astrologers calculated his coming ; 
frenzied sibyls had loudly proclaimed the downfall 
of pagan gods. The initiates had announced that 
some day the world would be governed by one of 
their own, a Son of God. 1 The world was expecting 
a spiritual king, one who would be understood by 
the poor and lowly. 

The great ^Eschylus, son of a priest of Eleusis, 
was almost killed by the Athenians for daring to 
say in the crowded theatre, by the mouth of his 

1 Such is the esoteric signification of the beautiful legend of the magi 
coming from the far Cast to worship the child of Bethlehem. 



264 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

Prometheus, that the reign of Jupiter-Destiny wduld 
come to an end. Four centuries later, under the 
shadow of the throne of Augustus, the gentle Virgil 
announces a new age, and dreams of a marvellous 
child— 

u Ultima Cumae! venit jam carminis aetat ; 

Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo. 

Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Satumia regna : 

Jam nova progenies coelo demittitur alto. 

Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum 
Desinet, ac toto surget gens aurea mundo, 

Casta, fave, Lucina ; tuus jam regnat Apollo. 

. . . Aspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum, 
Terrasque, tractusque maris, coelumque profundum, 
Aspice venturo laetantur ut omnia saeclo." 1 

When will this child be born? From what 
divine world will this soul come ? In what brilliant 
lightning-flash of love will it descend to earth ? By 

1 Virgil, Eclogue 4 t— 

“ The last great age, foretold by sacred rhymes, 

Renews its finished course, Saturnian times 
Roll round again, and mighty years begun 
From their first orb in radiant circles run, 

The base degenerate iron offspring ends, 

A golden progeny from Heaven descends : 

Oh 1 Chaste Lucina 1 Speed the mother’s pains, 

And haste the glorious birth, thy own Apollo reigns. 

See, labouring Nature calls thee to sustain 

The nodding frame of Heaven and Earth and main $ 

See to their base restored, earth, seas, and air ; 

And joyful ages from behind in crowding ranks appear 
To sing thy praise. . . 

. — DltYDiN. 



THE WORLD AT BIRTH OF JESUS 265 

what wonderful purity, what superhuman energy 
will it remember the abandoned heaven ? By what 
mightier effort will it return from the depths of its 
earthly consciousness, taking with it mankind in 
its train ? 

No one could have told, but all were waiting and 
expecting. . . . Herod the Great, the Idumean 
usurper, the prot6g6 of Augustus Caesar, was then 
at the point of death in his Cyprian chateau at 
Jericho, after a sumptuous and blood-stained reign, 
which had covered Judea with splendid palaces and 
human hecatombs. He was dying from a terrible 
malady, decomposition of the blood, hated by all, 
torn with fury and remorse, haunted by the spectres 
of his innumerable victims, amongst whom were 
numbered his innocent wife, the noble Marian, of 
Maccabee blood, and three of his own sons. The 
seven women of his harem had fled the presence 
of the royal phantom. His very bodyguard had 
abandoned him. Impassive by the side of the dying 
wretch sat his sister Salome, his evil genius, the 
instigator of his foulest crimes. With diadem on 
brow, and breast sparkling with precious stones, she 
kept watch, waiting for the king's last breath, when 
she in her turn would seize the reins of sovereignty. 

Thus died the last king of the Jews. At this very 
moment had ju$| been born the future spiritual 



266 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

king of humanity, 1 and the few initiates of Israel 
were silently preparing for his reign in profound 
humility and silence. 

1 Herod died in the fourth year before our era. Calculations of the 
critics are now generally unanimous in giving this date also as the birth 
of Jesus. See Keim, Das Leben /esu. 



CHAPTER II 

MARY — FIRST DEVELOPMENT OF IESUS 

Jehoshoua, whom we call Jesus, from the Greek 
form of his name, was probably born in Nazareth . 1 
It was certainly in this abandoned corner of Galilee 
that his childhood was passed, and the first, the 
greatest, of the Christian mysteries accomplished : 
the appearance of the soul of the Christ. He was 
the son of Miriam, or Mary, wife of the carpenter 
Joseph, a Galilean woman of noble origin, affiliated 
to the Essenes. 

Legend has woven a tissue of marvels around 
the birth of Jesus. If legend gives refuge to 
numerous superstitions, it also at times conceals 
psychic truths but little known, for they are above 
the perception of the mass of mankind. One fact 
may be learned from the legendary history of Mary, 
that Jesus was a child consecrated before his birth 
to a prophetic mission by the wish of his mother. 

1 It is by no means impossible that Jesus might chance to have 
been born in Bethlehem. But this tradition seems to form part of 
the cycle of later legends relating to the holy family and the 
infancy of the Christ. 

1*7 



268 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

The same thing is related of several heroes and 
prophets of the Old Testament. These sons thus 
dedicated to God were called Nazarenes. Touch- 
ing this point, it is interesting to refer to the 
histories of Samson and of Samuel. An angel 
announces to Samson's mother that she will soon 
be with child, and will give birth to a son, whose 
head the razor shall not touch. In the case 
of Samuel, it is the mother who herself requests 
a child from God ( Cf \ Judges xiii. 3-5 ; and 
1 Samuel i. 1 1-20). 

Now Sam-u-el, in its original root signification, 
means, Inner glory of God. The mother, feeling 
herself, as it were, illumined by the one she in- 
carnated, considered him as the ethereal essence 
of the Lord. 

These passages are extremely important, as they 
introduce us to the esoteric, the constant and living 
tradition in Israel, and, along this channel, into 
the real signification of the Christian legend. 
Elkana, the husband, is indeed the earthly father 
of Samuel in the flesh, but the Eternal is his 
heavenly Father in the Spirit. The figurative lan- 
guage of Judaic monotheism here masks the 
doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul. The 
woman initiate appeals to a superior soul, de- 
manding to receive it into her womb, and bring 



FIRST DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS 269 

to birth a prophet. This doctrine, considerably 
veiled by the Jews, and completely absent from 
their official worship, formed part of the secret 
tradition of the initiates. It appears in the pro- 
phets. Jeremiah affirms it in the; following 
terms: “The word of the Lord came unto me, 
saying, Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew 
thee ; and before thou earnest forth out of the 
womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a 
prophet unto the nations/’ 1 

Jesus will say the same to the scandalised 
Pharisees, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, 
I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." a 

How much of this can we apply in the case 
of Mary, the mother of Jesus? It appears that, 
in the first Christian communities, Jesus had been 
regarded as a son of Mary and Joseph, since 
Matthew gives us the genealogical tree of Joseph 
to prove that Jesus can trace his descent from 
David. At a later date, legend, anxious to show 
the supernatural origin of the Christ, wove her 
web of gold and azure: the history of Joseph 
and Mary, the Annunciation, and even the infancy 
of Mary iq the temple. 8 

} Jeremiah i> 4. B John viii. 58. 

* Apocryphal Gospel of Mary and of the Saviour’s Childhood, 
published by Tiachendorff. 



270 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

An attempt to discover the esoteric signification 
of Jewish tradition and Christian legend would 
lead one to say that the action of Providence, or 
the influx of the spiritual world which co-operates 
in the birth of any man, whoever he be, is more 
powerful and evident at the birth of all men of 
genius, whose appearance can in no way be 
explained by the sole law of physical atavism. 
This influx reaches its greatest intensity in the 
case of one of those divine prophets destined to 
change the face of the world. The soul, chosen 
for a divine mission, comes from a divinfc world ; 
it comes freely and consciously, but that it may 
enter upon an earthly life a chosen vessel is 
needed, and the appeal of a highly gifted mother, 
who from the attitude of her moral being, the desire 
of her soul, and the purity of her life, has a 
presentiment, attracts and incarnates into her very 
blood and flesh the soul of the Redeemer, destined 
in the eyes of men to become a son of God. Such 
is the profound truth beneath the ancient idea of 
the Virgin-Mother. The Hindoo genius had already 
given expression to this idea in the legend of 
Krishna. The Gospels of Matthew and of Luke 
have rendered it with an even more admirable 
simplicity and poetic instinct. 

“ To # the soul which comes from heaven, birth 



FIRST DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS 271 

is a death,” Empedocles had said 500 years b.c. 
However sublime the spirit be, once imprisoned 
in flesh, it temporarily loses the remembrance of 
all its past ; once engaged in corporal life, the 
development of its earthly consciousness is sub- 
jected to the laws of the world in which it in- 
carnates. It falls under the "force of the elements. 
The higher its origin, the greater will be the 
effort to regain its dormant powers, its celestial 
innatenesses, and to become conscious of its 
mission. 

Profound and tender souls need silence and 
peace to spring into manifestation. Jesus passed 
his early years amid the calm of Galilee. His 
first impressions were gentle, austere, and serene. 
His birthplace resembled a corner of heaven, 
dropped on the side of a mountain. The village 
of Nazareth has changed but little with the flight 
of time. 1 Its houses, rising in tiers under the 
rock, resembled — so travellers say — white cubes 
scattered about in a forest of pomegranate, vine, 
and fig trees, whilst myriads of doves filled the 
heavens. Around this nest of verdant freshness 
floats the pure mountain air, whilst on the heights 

1 See the masterly description of Galilee by M. Renan in his Fit de 
JJsus, and the no less remarkable one of M. E. Melchior de Vogu6 in 
hi* Voyagt in SyrU it in Patestim. 



272 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

may be seen the open, clear horizon of Galilee. 
Add to this imposing background the quiet, 
solemn home-life of a pious, patriarchal family. 
The strength of Jewish education lay always in 
the unity pf law and faith, as well as in the 
powerful organisation of the family dominated by 
the national and religidtis idea. The paternal home 
was a kind of temple for the child. Instead of 
the grinning frescoes, the nymphs and fauns which 
adorned the atrium of the Greek houses, such as 
could be seen at Sephoris and Tiberias, there 
could be found in the Jewish houses only passages 
from the laws and the prophets, the stern, rigid 
texts standing out in Chaldean characters above 
the doors and upon the walls. But the uqion of 
father and mother in mutual love of their children 
illumined and warmed the house with a distinctly 
spiritual life. It was there Jesus received his early 
instruction, and first became acquainted with the 
Scriptures under the teaching of his parents. 
From his earliest childhood the long strange 
destiny of the people of Gdd appeared before 
him in the periodic feasts and holy days cele- 
brated in family life by reading, song, and prayer. 
At the Feast of Tabernacles, a shed, made of 
myrtle and olive branches, was erected in the 
'court or on the roof of the house in memory of 



FIRST DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS 273 

the nomad patriarchs of bygone ages. The seven- 
branched candlestick was lit, and there were pro- 
duced the rolls of papyrus from which the secret 
history was read aloud. To the child's mind, the 
Eternal was present, not merely in the $tarry sky; 
but even in this candlestick, the reflex of his 
glory, in the speech of the father and the silent 
love of the mother. Thus Jesus was made 
acquainted with the great days in Israel's history, 
days of joy and sorrow, of triumph and exile, of 
numberless afflictions and eternal hope. The 
father gave no reply to the child's eager and 
direct questions. But the mother, raising those 
dreamy eyes from beneath their long dark lashes, 
and catching her son's questioning look, said to 
him, “The Word of God lives in his prophets 
alone. Some day the wise Essenes, solitary 
wanderers by Mount Carmel and the Dead Sea, 
will give thee an answer." 

We may also imagine the child Jesus amongst 
his young companions, exercising over them the 
strange prestige given by a precocious intelligence 
joined to active sympathy and the feeling of justice. 
We follow him to the synagogue, where he heard 
the Scribes and Pharisees discuss together, and 
where he himself was to exercise his dialectical 
powers. We see him quickly repelled by the arid 
11, s 



274 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

teachings of these doctors of the law, who tortured 
the letter to such an extent as to do away with 
the spirit. And again, we see him brought into 
contact with pagan life as he visited the wealthy 
Sephoris, capital of Galilee, residence of Antipas, 
guarded by Herod's mercenaries, Gauls, Thracians, 
and barbarians of every kind. In one of those 
frequent journeys to visit Jewish families, he might 
well have pushed on to a Phoenician town, one 
of those veritable hives of human beings, swarming 
with life, by the seaside. He would see from afar 
the low temples, with their thick sturdty columns, 
surrounded with dark groves, whence issued the 
songs of the priestesses of Astarte, to the doleful 
accompaniment of the flute ; their voluptuous 
shrieks, piercing as a cry of pain, would awaken 
in his heart a deep groan of anguish and pity. 
Then Mary's son returned to his beloved moun- 
tains with a feeling of deliverance. He mounted 
the steeps of Nazareth, gazing around on the vast 
horizon towards Galilee and Samaria, and cast 
lingering eyes on Carmel, Gilboa, Tabor, and 
Sichem, old-standing witnesses of the patriarchs 
and prophets. 

However powerful might have been the impres- 
sions of the outer world on the soul of Jesus, they 
all grew pale before the sovereign and inexpres- 



FIRST DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS 275 

sible truth in his inner world. This truth was 
expanding in the depths of his nature, like some 
lovely flower emerging from a dark pool. It re- 
sembled a growing light which appeared to him 
when alone in silent meditation. At ^uch times 
men and things, whether near or far away, ap- 
peared as though transparent in their essence. 
He read thoughts and saw souls ; then, in memory, 
he caught glimpses, as though through a thin veil, 
of divinely beautiful and shining beings bending 
over him, or assembled in adoration of a dazzling 
light. Wonderful visions came in his sleep, or 
interposed themselves between himself and reality 
by a veritable duplication of his consciousness. 
In these transports of rapture which carried him 
from zone to zone as though towards other skies, 
he at times felt himself attracted by a mighty 
dazzling light, and then plunged into an incan- 
descent sun. These ravishing experiences left 
behind in him a spring of ineffable tenderness, a 
source of wonderful strength. How perfect was 
the reconciliation he felt with all beings, in what 
sublime harmony was he with the universe 1 But 
what was this mysterious light — though even more 
familiar and living than the other — which sprang 
forth from the depths of his nature, carrying him 
away to the most distant tracts of space, aiyi yet 



276 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

uniting him by "secret vibrations with all souls? 
Was it not the source of souls and worlds ? 

He named it : His Father in Heaven. 1 

This primitive feeling of unity with God in the 
light of Lpve, is the first, the great revelation of 
Jesus. An inner voice told him to hide it deep in 
his heart ; all the same, it was to give light to 
his whole life. It gave him an invincible feeling 
of certainty, made him at once gentle and indo- 
mitable ; converted his thought into a diamond 
shield, and his speech into a sword of flame. 

Besides, this profoundly secret, myst&al life was 
united with a perfect clearness on matters of every- 
day life. Luke shows him at the age of twelve 
years as " increasing in strength, grace, and 
wisdom. 0 The religious consciousness was, in 
Jesus, innate, absolutely independent of the outer 
world. His prophetic and Messianic conscious- 

1 Mystical annals of all times show that moral or spiritual troths of 
a superior order have been perceived by certain highly endowed souls, 
without reasoning, simply by inner contemplation and under the form 
of a vision. This is a psychical phenomenon imperfectly known to 
modern science, but still an incontestable fact. Catherine de Sienne, 
daughter of a poor dyer, at the age of four years, saw visions of an 
extremely remarkable nature. Swedenborg, man of science, calm 
observer and reasoner, began at the age of forty years, and in perfect 
health, to have visions which had no relation with his previous life* 
I do not pretend to place these phenomena on exactly the lame plane 
as those which took place in the consciousness of Jesus, but simply to 
establish the universality of an inner perception, independent of the 
bodily senses* 



FIRST DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS 277 

ness could only be awakened by outer circum- 
stances, by the life of his age, in short, by special 
initiation and long inner elaboration. Traces of 
this are found in the Gospels and elsewhere. 

The first great shock came to him during a journey 
to Jerusalem with his parents, as related by Luke. 
This town, the pride of Israel, had become the 
centre of Jewish aspirations. Its misfortunes had 
had no other effect than to exalt the minds of men. 
Under the Seleucides and Maccabees, first by 
Pompey and finally by Herod, Jerusalem had been 
subjected to the most terrible of sieges. Blood 
had been shed in torrents ; the Roman legions had 
butchered the people in its streets, and innumer- 
able crucifixions had polluted the surrounding 
heights. After such horrors, and the humiliation 
following on the Roman occupation, after decimat- 
ing the Sanhedrim and reducing the pontiff to a 
mere trembling slave, Herod, as though in irony, 
had rebuilt the temple with more magnificent 
pomp and glory than ever. Jerusalem remained, 
as before, the holy city. Had not Isaiah, the 
favourite author of Jesus, named it “the bride, 
before whom the people shall bow down ” ? He 
had said, “ The Gentiles shall come to thy light, 
and kings to the brightness of thy rising. . . . 
Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wast- 



278 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

ing nor destruction within thy borders; but thou 
shalt call thy walls Salvation and thy gates 
Praise." 1 To see Jerusalem and the Temple of 
Jehovah was the dream of all Jews, especially since 
Judaea ha$ become a Roman province. They 
journeyed hither from Perea, Galilee, Alexandria, 
and Babylon. On the way, whether in the wilder- 
ness under the waving palms, or near the wells, 
they cast longing eyes, as they sang their psalms, 
in the direction of the hill of Zion. A strange 
feeling of oppression must have come over the 
soul of Jesus, when, on his first pilgrimage, he saw 
the city girt around with lofty walls, standing there 
on the mountain, like a gloomy fortress, the 
Roman amphitheatre of Herod at its gates, the 
Antonia tower dominating the temple, and Roman 
legions — lance in hand — keeping watch from the 
heights. He ascended the temple steps, and ad- 
mired the beauty of those marble porticoes, along 
which walked the Pharisees in sumptuous flowing 
garments. After crossing the Gentiles', he pro- 
ceeded to the women's court, and, mingling with 
the crowd of Israelites, drew near the Nicanor 
gate, and the three-cubit balustrade, behind which 
were to be seen priests in sacerdotal robes of 
purple and violet, shining with gold and precious 

1 Isaiah lx. 3, 18. 



FIRST DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS 279 

stones, officiating there in front of the sanctuary, 
sacrificing bulls and goats, and sprinkling the blood 
over the people as they pronounced a blessing. 
All this bore no resemblance to the temple of his 
dreams, or the heaven in his heart. 

Then he descended again into the more populous 
quarters of the town, where he saw beggars pallid 
with hunger, and whose faces were torn with 
anguish ; a veritable reflection of the tortures and 
crucifixions accompanying the late wars. Leaving 
the city by one of the gates, he wandered among 
those stony valleys and gloomy ravines forming 
the quarries, pools, and tombs of the kings, and 
converting Jerusalem into a veritable sepulchre. 
There he saw maniacs issue from the caves, shriek- 
ing out blasphemies against living and dead alike. 
Then, descending a broad flight of stones to the 
pool of Siloam, he saw stretched out at the water's 
brink lepers, paralytics, and wretches, covered with 
ulcers and sores, in the most abject misery. An 
irresistible impulse compelled him to look deep 
into their eyes, and drink in all their grief and 
pain. Some asked him for help, others were 
gloomy and hopeless, others again, with senses 
numbed, seemed to have done with suffering. 
But then how long had they been there to have 
come to such a state ? 



280 JESUS, THE LAST GflEAT INITIATE 

Then Jesus said to himself: “Of what use are 
these priests, this temple and these sacrifices, since 
they can afford no relief to such terrible suffering ?” 
And, of a sudden, like an overwhelming torrent, he 
felt pouring into his heart the grief and pains of 
this town arid its inhabitants — of the whole of 
humanity. He understood now that a happiness 
he could not share with others was absolutely 
impossible. These looks of despair were never 
more to leave his memory. Human Suffering, a 
sad-faced bride, would henceforth accompany him 
everywhere, whispering in his ear : “ I^will never 
leave thee more 1 ” 

His soul full of anguish, he left Jerusalem, and 
proceeded towards the open peaks of Galilee. A 
cry leapt forth from the depths of his heart: 
“ Father in Heaven 1 Grant that I may know, and 
heal and save 1 ” 



CHAPTER III 

THE ESSENES— JOHN THE BAPTIST — THE 
TEMPTATION 

WHAT he wished to know he could learn from 
none other than the Essenes. 

The Gospels have maintained perfect silence as 
to the deeds of Jesus, previous to his meeting with 
John the Baptist, through whom, according to them, 
he in some way took possession of his ministry. 
Immediately afterwards he makes his appearance 
in Galilee with a clearly defined doctrine, the 
assurance of a prophet, and the consciousness of 
the Messiah. But evidently this bold and pre- 
meditated d6but was preceded by the long develop- 
ment of a veritable initiation. No less certain is 
it that this initiation must have taken place in 
the sole association in Israel, which, at that time, 
preserved the real traditions of the prophets and 
adopted their mode of living. There can be no 
doubt of this among those who, rising above the 
superstition of literal interpretation, have the 
courage to discover how things are linked together 

«8t • 



282 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

by their spirit. This arises not merely from the 
intimate relations seen to exist between the doc- 
trine of Jesus and that of the Essenes, but even 
from the very silence kept by the Christ and His 
disciples cQncerning this sect. Why does he who 
attacks with unparalleled courage all the religious 
sects of his day, never mention the Essenes? 
And why do neither the apostles nor evangelists 
speak of them ? Evidently because they con- 
sidered the Essenes as belonging to themselves, 
as being linked with them by the oath of the 
mysteries, and linked to the sect of the Christians. 

The Order of the Essenes constituted in the 
time of Jesus the final remnant of those brother- 
hoods of prophets organised by Samuel. The 
despotism of the rulers of Palestine, the jealousy 
of an ambitious and servile priesthood, had forced 
them to take refuge in silence and solitude. They 
no longer struggled as did their predecessors, but 
contented themselves with preserving their tradi- 
tions. They had two principal centres, one in 
Egypt, on the banks of Lake Maoris, the other in 
Palestine, at Engaddi,near the Dead Sea. The name 
of Essenes they had adopted came from the Syrian 
word 11 Asaya,” physican — in Greek, therapeutes ; 
for their only acknowledged ministry with regard 
to the public was that of healing disease both 



THE ESSENES 


283 

physical and moral. “ They studied with great 
diligence/' says Josephus, “ certain medical writ- 
ings dealing with the occult .virtues of plants and 
minerals ." 1 

Some of them possessed the gift of prophecy, as, 
e.g., Menahim, who had prophesied to Herod that 
he should reign. “They serve God," said Philo, 
“with great piety, not by offering victims but by 
sanctifying the spirit ; avoiding towns, they de- 
vote themselves to the arts of peace ; not a single 
slave is to be found among them ; they are all free 
and work for one another ," 2 The rules of the 
Order were strict ; in order to enter, a year's no- 
vitiate was necessary. If one had given sufficient 
proofs of temperance, he was admitted to the 
ablutions, though without entering into relations 
with the masters of the Order. Tests, extending 
over another two years, were necessary before 
being received into the brotherhood. They 
swore “ by terrible oaths " to observe the rules 
of the Order and to betray none of its secrets. 
Then only did they participate in the common 
repasts, which were celebrated with great solemnity 
and constituted the inner worship of the Essenes. 

1 Josephus, “ Wars of the Jews,” xxx. 2 , Ac. j “ Antiquities,” xiii. 
5-9 J xviii. 1-5. 

• Philo, “ On the Contemplative Life.” 



284 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

The garment they had worn during these repasts 
they looked upon as sacred and to be removed 
before resuming work. These fraternal love- 
feasts, primitive form of the Supper instituted by 
Jesus, began and ended by prayer. The first 
interpretation of the sacred books of Moses and 
the prophets was here given. But the explanation 
of the texts allowed of three significations, just 
as there were three degrees of initiation. Very 
few attained to the highest degree. All this 
wonderfully resembles the organisation of the 
Pythagoreans, 1 but certainly it was almost the 
same amongst the ancient prophets, for it is to 
be found wherever initiation has existed. It must 
be added that the Essenes professed the essential 
dogma of the Orphic and Pythagorean doctrine ; 
that of the pre-existence of th^ soul, the conse- 
quence and reason of its immortality. “The 
soul," they said, “descending from the most 
subtle ether, and attracted into the body by a 
certain natural charm (ivyyi rm (pvcrt^J p remains 

1 Point* in common between Essene* and Pythagoreans: Prayer 
at sunrise j linen garments j fraternal love-feast* ; one year’s noviti- 
ate ; three degree* of initiation ; organisation of the Order and com- 
munity of possessions managed by trustees j the law of silence ; the 
oath of the mysteries; the division of instruction into three parts: (1) 
Science of the universal principles of Theogony, what Philo calls Logic ; 
(2) Physics or Cosmogony ; (3) Morals, i,$. everything dealing with 
man, the conscience to which the healers specially devoted themselves. 



THE ESSENES 


285 

there as in a prison; freed from the bonds of 
the body, as from a long servitude, it joyfully 
takes its flight 1 ' (Josephus, A.J . , ii. 8). 

Among the Essenes, the brothers, properly so 
called, lived under a community of property, and 
in a condition of celibacy, cultivating the ground, 
and, at times, educating the children of strangers. 
The married Essenes formed a class affiliated and 
under subjection to the other. Silent, gentle, and 
grave, they were to be met with here and there, 
cultivating the arts of peace. Carpenters, weavers, 
vine-planters, or gardeners, never gunsmiths or 
merchants. Scattered in small groups about the 
whole of Palestine, and in Egypt, even as far as 
Mount Horeb, they offered one another the most 
complete hospitality. Thus we see Jesus and his 
disciples journeying from town to town, and from 
province to province, and always certain of finding 
shelter and lodging. “The Essenes/' said Josephus, 
“ were of an exemplary morality, they forced them- 
selves to suppress passion and anger ; always be- 
nevolent, peaceable, and trustworthy. Their word 
was more powerful than an oath, which, in ordi- 
nary life, they looked upon as superfluous, and 
almost as perjury. They endured the most cruel 
of tortures with admirable steadfastness of soul 
and smiling countenance rather than violate the 



286 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

slightest religious precept/' Indifferent to the 
outward pomp of worship at Jerusalem, repelled 
by the harshness of the Sadducees, and the prayers 
of the Pharisees, as well as by the pedantry of the 
synagogue, Jesus was attracted towards the Essenes 
by natural affinity. 1 

The premature death of Joseph set entirely free 
Mary's son, now grown into a man. His brothers 
could continue the father's trade and supply all 
family needs, so Mary gave him permission to leave 
secretly for Engaddi. Welcomed as a £rother and 
one of the elect, he rapidly acquired over his very 
masters an invincible ascendancy, by reason of his 
superior faculties, his ardent love, and an inde- 
scribable, divine element manifested throughout 
his entire being. From the Essenes he received 
what they alone could give him: the esoteric 
tradition of the prophets, and by its means, his 
own historical and religious tendency or trend. 
He came to understand how wide a gulf separated 
the official Jewish doctrine from the ancient wis- 
dom of the initiates, the veritable mother of re- 
ligions, though ever persecuted by Satan, ia. by 

1 Points in common between the doctrines of the Essenes and those 
of Jesns : Loare of one's neighbour, emphasised as one's first duty ; 
prohibition of the oath as witnesses to truth; hatred of lying; meek- 
ness ; institution of the Supper, borrowed from the fraternal love-feasts 
of the Essenes, but with a new signification, that of sacrifice. 



THE ESSENES 


287 

the spirit of evil, of egoism, hatred, and denial, 
allied with absolute political power and priestly 
imposture. He learned that Genesis, under the 
seal of its symbolism, concealed a theogony and 
cosmogony as far removed from the 9 literal sig- 
nification as is the profoundest truth of science 
from a child’s fable. He contemplated the days 
of Aelohim, or the eternal creation by emanation 
of the elements and the formation of the worlds, 
the origin of the floating souls, and their return 
to God by progressive existences or generations 
of Adam. He was struck with the grandeur of 
the thought of Moses, whose intention had been 
to prepare the religious unity of the nations by 
establishing the worship of the one God, and 
incarnating this idea into a people. 

Afterwards he was instructed in the doctrine 
of the divine Word, already taught by Krishna 
in India, by the priests of Osiris, by Orpheus 
and Pythagoras in Greece, and known to the 
prophets under the name of the Mysteries of the 
Son of Man and of the Son of God \ According 
to this doctrine! the highest manifestation of God 
is man, who, in constitution, form, organs, and 
intelligence is the image of the Universal Being, 
whose faculties he possesses. In the earthly 
evolution of humanity, however, God is scattered, 



2 88 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

split up, and mutilated, so to speak, in the multi- 
plicity of men and of human imperfections. In 
it he suffers, struggles, and tries to find himself, 
he is the Son of Man, the perfect Man, the Man- 
Type, the grofoundest thought of God, remaining 
hidden in the infinite abyss of his desire and 
power. And yet at certain epochs, when hu- 
manity is to be saved from some terrible gulf, 
and set on a higher plane, a chosen one iden- 
tifies himself with divinity, attracts it to himself 
by strength, wisdom, and love, and manifests it 
anew to men. Then, divinity, by the virtue and 
breath of the Spirit, is completely present in him : 
the Son of Man becomes the Son of God, and 
his living word. In other ages and among other 
nations, there had already appeared sons of God, 
but since Moses, none had arisen in Israel. All 
the prophets were expecting this Messiah. The 
Seers even said that this time he would call him- 
self the Son of Woman, of the Heavenly Isis, of 
the divine light which is the Bride of God, for 
the light of Love would shine in him, above 
every other light, with a dazzling splendour, hither- 
to unknown on earth. 

All these secrets which the patriarch of the 
Essenes unfolded to the young Galilean on the 
solitary banks of the Dead Sea, in lonely Engaddi, 



THE ESSENES 


289 

seemed to him wonderful, but yet known. It was 
with no ordinary emotion that he heard the chief 
of the Order comment on the words still to be read 
in the Book of Henoch : “ From the beginning the 
Son of Man was in the mystery. The. Father kept 
him near his mighty presence, and manifested him 
to his elect . . . But the Kings shall be afraid and 
shall prostrate themselves to the ground with terror, 
when they shall see the Son of Woman seated on 
the throne of his glory. . . f . Then the elect shall 
summon all the forces of heaven, all the saints from 
on high and the power of God ; and the Cherubim, 
the Seraphim, the Ophanim, all the angels of Mighty 
all the angels of the Lord y ue. of the Elect and of 
the other Mighty serving on earth and above the 
waters, shall raise their voices.' 1 1 

At these revelations the words of the prophets, 
read and meditated upon times innumerable, ap- 
peared before the eyes of the Nazarene, with a 
profound and terrible light, like lightning flashes in 
the night. Who could this Elect be, and when 
would he appear before Israel ? 

1 Book of Henoch, chaps, xlviii. and lxi. This passage shows that 
the doctrine of the Word, the Trinity found in the Gospel of John, 
existed in Israel long before the time of Jesus, and came from the very 
depths of esoteric prophecy. In the Book of Henoch, the Lord of 
Spirits represents the Father, the Elect represents the Son, and the 
other Might, the Holy Ghost. 

II. 


T 



2 9 o JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

Jesus passed a series of years among the Essenes. 
He submitted to their discipline, studied with them 
the secrets of nature, and the occult power of 
healing. To develop his spirit, he gained entire 
mastery over his body. Not a day passed without 
self-questioning and meditation on the destiny of 
humanity. That was a memorable night for the 
Order of the Essenes and the new adept, when he 
received in profoundest secrecy the superior initia- 
tion of the fourth degree, the one granted only in 
the special case of a prophetic mission, requested 
by the brother, and confirmed by th$ Elders. A 
meeting was held in a cave cut into the mountain, 
and resembling a vast hall with an altar of stone 
seats. The chief of the Order was there with a 
few Elders. Sometimes two or three initiates, 
prophetesses also, Essenes, were admitted to 
the mysterious ceremony. Bearing torches and 
branches of palm trees, they greeted the new Initiate 
who was clothed in a robe of white linen, as “Bride- 
groom and King,” the one they had seen in vision, 
and whom they now looked upon perhaps for the 
last time ! Then, the chief of the Order, generally 
an old centenarian (Josephus states that the Essenes 
lived to an advanced age) offered him the golden 
chalice as a symbol of the final initiation, contain- 
ing the wine of the Lords vineyard, symbol of divine 



THE ESSENES 


291 


inspiration. Some said that Moses and the seventy 
had drunk therefrom ; others trace it back from 
Abraham, who received from Melchisedek this very 
initiation under the elements of bread and wine . 1 
The Elders never offered the cup to any one in 
whom they had not recognised, with distinct cer- 
tainty, the signs of a prophetic mission. But no 
one could define this mission, he was to find it 
himself ; such is the law of the initiates — nothing 
from without, everything from within. Henceforth 
he was free, master of his own actions, liberated 
from the Order, a very hierophant, obedient to the 
impulses of the spirit which could fling him into 
the depths or transport him on high, far above 
scenes of torture and human passion. 

When after the songs and prayers and sacra- 
mental words of the Elder the Nazarene took the 
cup, a pale ray of the sun shooting through a 
rugged mountain crag ran in and about the torches 
and the flowing white garments of the Essene pro- 
phetesses. They too shuddered as they saw it fall 
on the Galilean's beautiful countenance, now over- 
shadowed with a look of infinite sorrow. Were his 
thoughts dwelling on the poor wretches of Siloam ; 
had he already, in that ever-present anguish, caught 
a glimpse of the path he was to traverse ? 

1 Genesis xiv. t& 



292 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

About this time, John the Baptist was preaching 
on the banks of the Jordan. He was not an Essene, 
but a prophet of the people, belonging to the sturdy 
race of Judah. Driven into the wilderness by a 
fierce unyielding piety, he had there, in prayer, 
fasting, and mortification, lived a life of the strictest 
asceticism. Over his bare sun-tanned skin he wore 
a camel's-hair cloak, symbol of the penitence he 
wished to impose both on himself and on his people. 
Deeply did he feel Israel's distress, and ardently 
did he await deliverance. According to the Jewish 
idea, he imagined the Messiah would fioon come as 
an Avenger and a Judge ; that, like another Mac- 
cabaeus, he would rouse the people to revolt, 
drive out the Romans, punish the guilty, and finally 
enter Jerusalem in triumph, where, in peace and 
justice, he would re-establish the kingdom of Israel 
over all nations. He announced to the multitudes, 
who eagerly drank in his words, that the time was 
nigh for the coming of this Messiah, adding that 
they must prepare for it in a spirit of true repent- 
ance. Adopting the Essenian custom of ablution 
and transforming it, he had looked upon baptism 
in the Jordan as a visible symbol, a public accom- 
plishment of the inner purification he insisted upon. 
This new ceremony, this earnest preaching to 
immense crowds of people, with the wilderness as 



THE ESSENES 


293 

a background, and beside the sacred waters of the 
Jordan, near the rugged mountains of Peraea and 
Judaea, seized hold of the imagination, and attracted 
multitudes. It recalled the glorious days of the 
prophets of old, and gave the people what the 
temple could not give them, an inner shock, and, 
after the terrors of repentance had passed, a vague 
though mighty hope. They came from every part 
of Palestine, and even from more distant lands, to 
hear the desert-saint who foretold the coming of 
the Messiah. The populace, attracted by his mes- 
sage, remained there in camps, for weeks at a time, 
listening to him daily, unwilling to depart, awaiting 
the Messiah's coming. Many asked to take up 
arms under his command, and to recommence the 
holy war. Herod Antipas and the priests of Jeru- 
salem began to be uneasy at this excitement of the 
populace. The signs of the times, too, were omi- 
nous; Tiberius, at the age of seventy-four, was 
rapidly hastening his death by scenes of debauchery 
at Capri ; Pontius Pilate was persecuting the 
Jews with redoubled fury ; whilst, in Egypt, the 
priests had given forth that the Phoenix was about 
to spring again to birth from her ashes . 1 

Jesus, who felt the prophetic calling even more 
‘emphatic within his soul, though as yet he was 

1 Tacitus, Annals i vi. 28, 31, 



*94 JESUS, THE ^AST GREAT INITIATE 

still feeling his way, came also to the desert of 
the Jordan, accompanied by a few Essenes, who 
already acknowledged him as master. He wished 
to see the Baptist, to listen to his message, and be 
baptized in public. His desire was to present him- 
self in an humble and respectful attitude towards 
the prophet who had the courage to denounce the 
present rulers, and arouse from slumber the soul 
of Israel. 

He saw the rough ascetic, hairy and bearded, 
with his prophetic lionlike head, standing in a 
wooden pulpit under a rustic tent covered with 
branches and goat-skins. All around among the 
scanty desert shrubs was a mighty crowd, an entire 
camp: publicans, soldiers of Herod, Samaritans, 
Levitesfrom Jerusalem ; Idumeans with their flocks 
of sheep, even Arabs with their camels, tents and 
caravans, arrested by “ the voice crying in the 
wilderness/' and this voice of thunder passed over 
these multitudes. It said : 14 Repent ye ; prepare 
ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'* 
He called the Pharisees and Scribes “a race of 
vipers." He added that “the axe was already laid 
unto the root of the trees," and said of the Mes- 
siah : 44 1 baptize you with water only, but He shall 
typtize you with fire/' Then, about sunset, Jesus 
saw tlje crowds press towards a cove on the water's 



THE ESSENES 


295 

bank, and Herod's mercenaries bend their rough 
backs beneath the water poured over them by the 
Baptist. He drew nearer j John did not know 
Jesus, knew nothing whatever concerning him, 
but he recognised the Essene by his linen „ gar- 
ment. He saw him, a mere unit in the crowd, 
enter the water up to the girdle, and humbly 
bend to receive the baptismal sprinkling. When 
the neophyte arose, the savage preacher's fiery 
eyes met the Galilean's calm, gentle gaze, A 
quiver ran through the man of the wilderness as 
he saw the look of wondrous sweetness beaming 
from the eyes of Jesus, and involuntarily the ques- 
tion escaped his lips : (t Art thou the Messiah ? " 1 
The mysterious Essene made no reply, but with 
bowed head and crossed hands, he waited the 
blessing. John knew that silence was the law of 
the Essene novices. After solemnly extending both 
hands, the Nazarene disappeared with his com- 
panions among the water reeds. 

1 According to the Gospels, John immediately recognised Jesus as 
the Messiah, and baptized him as such. There are contradictory 
accounts on this point, for, at a later time, when a prisoner of Antipas 
at Makerous asks the question of Jesus, “ Art thou he that should 
come, or do we look for another?” this tardy doubt proves that 
though he might have suspected Jesus to be the Messiah, he was not 
convinced of it. The first compilers of the Gospels, however, being 
Jews, wished to present Jesus as having received his mission and 
consecration from John the Baptist, a popular prophet of Judsea. 



296 JESUS, THE *LAST GREAT INITIATE 

The Baptist saw him depart with mingled feel- 
ings of doubt, secret joy, and profound sadness. 
What was his own knowledge, his own prophetic 
hope compared with the light he had seen in the 
eyes of the unknown, a light which seemed to 
illuminate his whole being ? Ah 1 if the handsome 
young Galilean were the Messiah, then indeed had 
the brightest day of his life dawned I But his own 
part would now be over, his own voice silent. 
From this day forward he preached in deeper and 
more emotional tones on the melancholy theme : 
“ He must increase and I must decrease. 1 ’ He 
was beginning to feel the gloom and weariness 
of an old lion tired of roaring, and now silently 
awaiting the end. 

Could it be that he was the Messiah ? The 
Baptist's question also found an echo in the soul 
of Jesus. Ever since his consciousness had sprung 
to life, he had found God within himself, and the 
certainty of the kingdom of Heaven in the radiant 
beauty of his visions. Then came the suffering 
of humanity which had filled his heart with the 
awful outpour of its anguish. The wise Essenes 
had taught him the secret of religions and of 
mysteries, they had shown him the spiritual de- 
cadence of humanity, and its expectation of a 
saviour. But how could he find the strength 



THE ESSENES 


297 

needed to rescue it from the pit ? And now, the 
direct call of John the Baptist fell on the silence 
of his meditations like a thunderbolt from Sinai. 
Could he be the Messiah ? 

Jesgs could answer this question only by inmost 
meditation. Hence this retreat, this forty days' 
fast, narrated by Matthew in the form of a symbolic 
legend. The Temptation in reality represents in 
the life of Jesus this great crisis, this sovereign 
vision of truth, which all prophets, all religious 
initiates, must infallibly experience before beginning 
their work. 

Over above Engaddi, where the Essenes culti- 
vated sesame and the vine, a steep footpath led to 
a cave or grotto opening out on to the mountain- 
side. It was entered by way of Dorian columns 
cut out in the rough rock, similar to those of the 
" Apostles" retreat in the valley of Jehoshaphat. 
There one remained suspended above the yawning 
precipice as though from an eagle's nest. Below, 
in a gorge, could be seen vineyards and human 
dwellings away in the distance, the Dead Sea 
motionless and grey, and the lonely mountains of 
Moab. The Essenes had appointed this retreat for 
such among them as wished to submit to the test 
of solitude. In this spot were several rolls of the 
prophets, strengthening spices, dry figs, and a small 



298 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

stream of trickling water, sole nourishment of the 
ascetic in meditation. It was to this cave that Jesus 
retired. First of all, he mentally reviewed the 
whole of humanity’s past life, and estimated the 
gravity of tjie present times. Rome was in^ sove- 
reign power, and with her what the Persian magi 
had called the reign of Ahrimanes, and the prophets 
the reign of Satan, the sign of the Beast, the 
apotheosis of Evil. Darkness covered humanity, 
the soul of earth. 

The people of Israel had received from Moses 
the royal and sacerdotal mission ofy representing 
the male religion of the Father of the pure Spirit, 
of teaching it to other nations, and effecting its 
triumph. Had its kings and prophets fulfilled this 
mission ? The prophets who alone had beenicon- 
scious of it, replied unanimously : No ! Israel was in 
her last throes, crushed beneath the might of Rome. 
Ought a rising of the people to be hazarded once 
more as the Pharisees still expected ; a restoration 
by force of the temporal royalty of Israel ? Should 
he declare himself son of David, and exclaim with 
Isaiah : “ In my wrath I will trample upon the 
people . . . and overthrow their might ” ? Should 
he be a second Maccabaeus, and allow himself to 
be nominated pontifex-king ? Jesus might have 
made the attempt. He had seen the crowds ready 



THE ESSENES 


299 


to rise at the voice of John the Baptist, and the 
strength he was himself conscious of was far 
greater than that of the prophet of the wilderness ! 
But then, would violence overcome violence ? 
WouljJ the sword put an end to government by 
the sword? Would there not be thus supplied 
fresh recruits to the powers of darkness who were 
watching their prey in secret ? 

Ought he not rather to place within the reach of 
all mankind this truth, which hitherto had remained 
the privilege of a few sanctuaries and initiates, to 
open every heart to receive it, until the time should 
be ripe for it to penetrate the mind by inner reve- 
lation and science, t\e, to preach the kingdom of 
Heaven to the poor and lowly, substitute the reign 
of ferace for that of the Law, transform humanity 
from its very base by regeneration of souls ? 

But to whom would victory belong, to Satan or 
to God ? To the spirit of evil who reigns with the 
formidable powers of earth, or to the divine spirit 
who is enthroned above the invisible regions of 
heaven, and sleeps in the heart of man just as the 
spark lies hidden in the flint ? What would be the 
fate of the prophet who should dare to tear away 
the veil from the temple and lay bare the emptiness 
of the sanctuary, braving at once Herod and 
Caesar? 



3 oo JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

And yet it must be done ! The inner voice did 
not say to him as it did to Isaiah : “Take a large 
volume and write therein with a man's pen 1 " The 
voice of God cried out to him, “ Rise and speak ! " 
1 The word of life must be found, the faith which 
removes mountains, the strength which shatters the 
bulwarks of evil. 

Jesus began fervently to pray. Then a feeling of 
uneasiness, an increasing trouble came over his 
soul. He had a feeling that he was losing the 
marvellous felicity he had participated in, and that 
he was sinking into a very pit of darkne&. A black, 
dense mist came over him, peopled with phantoms 
of every kind. He recognised his brothers, his 
Essene masters, his mother. One after the other 
they said to him : “ It is madness for you to wish 
for what can never be ! You know not what is 
before you 1 Renounce it all l " The invincible 
inner voice replied : •* I must go on ! ” Thus he 
struggled for a series of days and nights, at times 
standing, then again on his knees or prostrate on 
the ground. The abyss in which he was sinking 
became deeper and deeper, and thicker and thicker 
the enveloping mist. He felt as though he were 
approaching something inexpressibly terrible. 

Finally, he entered that state of lucid ecstasy in 
which the very depth of consciousness awakens, 



THE ESSENES 


301 


enters into communication with the living Spirit of 
things, and projects in dreams the images of past 
and future. His eyes close, and the outer world 
disappears. The Seer contemplates truth in the 
light which floods his whole being, and ponverts his 
intelligence into a burning furnace. 

Then came the clash of thunder, the mountain 
shook to its foundations. A whirlwind coming 
from distant space carried off the Seer to the top 
of the temple at Jerusalem. Down below shone 
roofs and minarets like a forest of gold and silver. 
Hymns were ascending from the Holy of Holies, 
waves of incense arose from every altar and formed 
in eddying circles beneath his feet. People in 
festive garb filled the porticoes, whilst women 
joyfully sang into the air their hymns of ardent 
devotion. Trumpets sounded, and a mighty chorus 
of voices exclaimed : “ Glory to the Messiah 1 the 
King of Israel ! " “ Thou shalt be this King if thou 

wilt worship me," said a voice from below. “ Who 
art thou ?” asked Jesus. 

Again the wind carried him through space to the 
summit of a mountain. At his feet lay, in their 
golden glory, all the kingdoms of the earth. 

u I am the king of spirits and the prince of the 
earth," answered the voice from below. ... 11 1 know 
who thou art," said Jesus ; “ thy forms are innumer- 



302 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

able, thy name*is Satan. Appear in thy earthly 
form.” . . . The figure of a crowned monarch 
appeared, enthroned in the clouds. Around his 
imperial head shone a faint, pale halo. The sombre 
figure stood,out against a blood-red nimbus, with its 
pallid, ghastly countenance, and eyes flashing forth a 
cold steely light. He said : “ I am Caesar. Only 
bow down before me, and I will give thee all these 
kingdoms.” Jesus said to him : “Get thee behind 
me, tempter l It is written : 1 Thou shalt worship 
only the Lord thy God.' ” Immediately the vision 
faded away. # 

Finding himself alone in the cave of Engaddi, 
Jesus said: “By what sign shall I overcome the 
powers of the earth By the sign of the Son 

of Man,” said a voice from above. “ Show me this 
sign,” said Jesus. 

Away on the horizon appeared a shining con- 
stellation, four stars in the sign of a cross. The 
Galilean recognised the sign of ancient initiations 
familiar to Egypt and preserved by the Essenes. 
When the world was young, the sons of Japhet 
had worshipped it as the sign of earthly and 
heavenly fire, the sign of Life with all its joys, of 
Love with all its wonders. Later the Egyptian 
initiates had seen in it the symbol of the great 
mystery, Trinity dominated by Unity, the image of 



THE ESSENES 


303 


the sacrifice of the ineffable Being who breaks him- 
self in order to manifest himself in the universe. 
Symbol at once of life, death, and resurrection, it 
covered innumerable hypogea, temples and tombs. 
• • . The brilliant cross grew larger , and came 
nearer, as though attracted by the heart of the 
Seer. The four living stars shone forth like suns 
of light and glory. “ Behold the magic sign of Life 
and Immortality 1 " said the heavenly voice. “ In 
ancient times it was in the possession of men, now 
it is lost. Wilt thou restore it to them I will/' 

said Jesus. . . . “Then look, behold thy destiny ! ” 
Suddenly the four stars disappeared. It was 
night ; loud thunderclaps shook the mountains to 
their foundations ; whilst from the depths of the 
Dead Sea emerged a dark, sombre mountain, sur- 
mounted with a black cross. On it was nailed a 
man in the agony of death. The mountain was 
covered with a demon-stricken mob, crying out in 
hellish jeers: “If thou art the Messiah, save thyself 1" 
The Seer opened wide his eyes, then fell back, cold 
drops of perspiration streaming down his face, for 
this crucified man was himself. . , . He had under- 
stood. In order to overcome, he must identify 
himself with this terror-stricken image, summoned 
up by himself, and placed there before him like an 
evil-boding omen. Wavering in his uncertainty as 



304 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

to the emptiness of infinite* space, Jesus felt at once 
the tortures of the crucified one, the insults of men, 
and the profound silenqe of heaven. . . . " Thou 
canst take it or reject it/* said the angelic voice. 
The vision Qf the cross-phantom and the crucified 
victim began to grow dim, when of a sudden Jesus 
saw once more by his side the sick wretches of the 
pool of Siloam, and behind them myriads of de- 
spairing souls murmuring, with clasped hands: 
“ Without thee we are lost ; save us, thou who 
knowest how to love 1 '* Then the Galilean slowly 
arose, and with outstretched arms, jyi an attitude of 
supreme love, exclaimed : “ Mine be the cross ! Let 
but the world be saved ! ” Immediately Jesus felt a 
mighty rending asunder throughout his frame, and 
a terrible groan escaped his lips. ... At the same 
time the dark, sombre mountain and the cross 
faded away, a gentle radiant beam of divine felicity 
entered the soul of the Seer, and from the heights 
of heaven a voice descended, saying, “ Satan is no 
longer master 1 Death is overthrown ! Glory to 
the Son of Man ! Glory to the Son of God 1 ” 
When Jesus awoke from this vision nothing 
around him had changed ; the rising sun cast his 
golden beams on the side of the cave of Engaddi ; 
soothing dewdrops — veritable tears of angelic love 
— bathed his bruised feet, and light clouds of mist 



THE ESSENES 305 

were rising from the 6ed Sea. But he was no 
longer the same. A definite event had taken place 
in the fathomless depths of his consciousness, he 
had solved the problem of life and had won peace, 
the great certainty had entered his soul.* From the 
rejection of his earthly being, which he had trodden 
under foot and cast into the pit, a new conscious- 
ness had arisen in radiant majesty. ... He knew 
he had become the Messiah by an irrevocable act 
of his will. 

Soon after, he once more descended to the village 
of the Essenes, where he learned that John the 
Baptist had just been seized by Antipas and im- 
prisoned in the fortress of Makerous. Far from 
showing fear at this omen, he saw therein a sign 
that the time was ripe and that he in his turn must 
act. Accordingly, he gave out to the Essenes that 
he was about to preach in Galilee, “ the Gospel of 
the kingdom of Heaven." That meant, to bring 
th$, great mysteries within reach of the poor and 
lowly, to translate for them the doctrine of the 
initiates. Like boldness had never been seen since 
the days when Qakia Mouni, the last Buddha, 
moved by mighty compassion, had preached on the 
banks of the Ganges. The same sublime com- 
passion for humanity animated Jesps. To it he 
joined inner illumination, capacity for lovyig, a 
II. U 



306 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

grandeur of faith and energy of action belonging 
to himself alone. From the abyss of death which 
he had fathomed, and whose bitterness he had 
tasted beforehand, he brought both hope and life 
for all his brethren. 



CHAPTER IV 


THE PUBLIC LIFE OF JESUS — POPULAR AND 
ESOTERIC INSTRUCTION — MIRACLES — APOSTLES 
— WOMEN 

Hitherto I have endeavoured to illuminate with 
its own light that portion of the lifi of Jesus which 
the Gospels have left in comparative obscurity, or 
wrapped around with the veil of legend. I have 
related by what kind of initiation and development 
of soul and thought the great Nazarene attained to 
the Messianic consciousness. In a word, I have 
endeavoured to reconstruct the inner genesis of the 
Christ. The rest of my task will be all the easier 
if this genesis be once acknowledged. The public 
life of Jesus has been related in the Gospels. These 
narratives contain divergences and contradictions 
as well as additions. The legend which overlies or 
exaggerates certain mysteries may still be traced 
here and there, but from the whole there is set free 
such a unity of thought and action, so powerful 
and original a character, that we invincibly feel our- 
•elves in the presence of reality and of life. These 



308 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

inimitable stories cannot be reconstructed ; their 
childlike simplicity and symbolical beauty tell us 
more than any amplifications can do. But what 
is needed nowadays is the illumination of the role 
of Jesus by ‘esoteric traditions and truths, showing 
the signification and bearing of his double teaching. 

What were these good tidings of which he was the 
bearer, this already famous Essene who had now 
returned from the shores of the Dead Sea to his 
native Galilee to preach there the Gospel of the 
Kingdom ? How was he to change the face of the 
world ? The thoughts of the prophets had just 
found their realisation in him. Strong in the 
entire gift of his very being, he now came to share 
with men this kingdom of heaven which he had 
won in meditation and strife, in torments of pain 
and boundless joy. He came to rend asunder the 
veil which the ancient religion of Moses had cast 
over the future beyond the tomb. He came to 
say : i( Believe, love, act, and let hope be the soul 
of your deeds. Beyond this earth there is a world 
of souls, a more perfect life. This I know, for I 
come therefrom ; thither will I lead you. But 
mere aspiration for that world will not suffice. To 
attain it you must begin by realising it here below, 
first in yourselves, afterwards in humanity. By 
what means ? By Love and active Charity/' 



THE PUBLIC LIFE OF JESUS 309 

So the young prophet came to Galilee. He did 
not say he was the Messiah, but discussed jn the 
synagogues concerning the laws and ^he prophets. 
He preached on the banks of the lake of Gennesareth, 
in fishermen's boats, by the fountains, in the oases 
of verdure abounding between Capernaum, Beth- 
saida, and Korazin. He healed the sick by laying-on 
of hands, a mere look or command, often by his 
presence alone. Multitudes followed him, and 
already numerous disciples attached themselves to 
him. These he recruited from among the fisher- 
men, tax-collectors, in a word, from the common 
people. Those of upright, unsullied nature, pos- 
sessed of an ardent faith, were the ones he wanted, 
and these he irresistibly attracted to himself. He 
was guided in his choice by that gift of second 
sight, which has ever been the peculiarity of men 
of action, but especially of religious initiators. A 
single look enabled him to fathom the depths of 
a soul. He needed no other test, and when he 
said : “ Follow me 1 ” he was obeyed. A single 
gesture summoned to his side the timid and 
hesitating, to whom he said : " Come unto me, 
ye that are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for 1 
am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest 
unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my 



310 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

burden is light, " 1 He divined the innate thoughts 
of men, who in trouble and confusion recognised 
the Master. # At times, he recognised in unbelief 
uprightness of heart. When Nathaniel said, u Can 
anything good come out of Nazareth?" Jesus 
replied : u Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is 
no guile ! " 1 From his adepts he required neither 
oaths nor profession of faith ; simply love and 
belief in himself. He put into practice the com- 
mon possession of goods as a principle of fraternity 
among his own people. 

Jesus thus began to realise, within his small 
group of followers, the Kingdom of Heaven he 
wished to establish on earth. The Sermon on the 
Mount offers us an image of this kingdom already 
formed in germ, along with a resume of the popular 
teaching of Jesus. He is seated on the top of a 
hill ; the future initiates are grouped at his feet ; 
farther down the slope the eager crowd drinks 
in the words which fall from his mouth. What 
is the doctrine of the new teacher ? Fasting or 
maceration or public penance? No; he says, 
« Blessed are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the 
kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn : 
for they shall be comforted." Then he unrolls 
in ascending order the four final beatitudes, the 

1 John i. 47- 


Matthew xi. 28 . 



THE PUBLIC LIFE OF JESUS 31 1 

marvellous power of humility, of sorrow for others, 
of the inner goodness of the heart and of hunger 
and thirst after righteousness. . . . Then, in glow- 
ing colours he depicts the active and triumphant 
virtues, compassion, purity of heart, militant kind- 

1 

ness, and finally martyrdom for righteousness’ sake. 
“ Blessed are the pure in heart : for they shall see 
God/ 1 Like the sound of a golden bell, this pro- 
mise gives his listeners a faint glimpse of the starry 
heavens above the Master's head. Then they see 
the humble virtues, no longer in the guise of poor 
emaciated women in grey penitents’ robes, but 
transformed into beatitudes, into virgins of light 
whose brightness effaces the splendour of the 
lilies and the glory of Solomon. With the gentle 
breath of their palm leaves they scatter over these 
thirsting souls the fragrant perfumes of the heavenly 
kingdom. 

The wonder is that this kingdom expands, not 
in the distant heavens, but in the hearts of the 
listeners. They exchange looks of astonishment 
with one another ; these poor in spirit have, of a 
sudden, become so rich. Mightier than Moses, 
the soul's magician has struck their hearts, from 
which rushes up an immortal spring of life. His 
teaching to the people may be summed up in the 
sentence : The kingdom of heaven is within vou \ 



312 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

Now that he lays before them the means necessary 
to attain to this unheard-of happiness, they are 
no longer astonished at the extraordinary things 
he asks of them : to kill even the desire for evil, 
to forgive offences, to love their enemies. So 
powerful is the stream of love with which his 
heart overflows, that he carries them away along 
the current. In his presence they find everything 
easy. Mighty the novelty, singular the boldness 
of such teaching. The Galilean prophet sets the 
inner life of the soul above all outer practices, 
the invisible above the visible, tjie Kingdom of 
Heaven above the benefits of earth. He com- 
mands that the choice be made between God and 
man. Then, summing up his doctrine, he says, 
“Love your neighbour as yourself! ... Be ye 
perfect even as your Father which is in heaven 
is perfect 1 " Thus, in popular form, he afforded 
a glimpse of the whole profundity of science and 
morals. For the supreme commandment, of the 
initiation is to reproduce divine perfection in the 
perfecting of the soul, and the secret of science 
lies in the chain of analogy and correspondences, 
uniting in ever-enlarging circles the particular to 
the universal, the finite to the infinite. 

If such was the public and purely moral teaching 
of Jesus, it is evident that in addition he gave 



ESOTERIC INSTRUCTION 313 

private instruction to his disciples, parallel with 
and explanatory of the former, showing its inner 
meaning and penetrating to the very depths of the 
spiritual truth he derived from the esoteric traditions 
of the Essenes and from his own experience. As 
this tradition was violently crushed by the Church 
from the second century onwards, the majority 
of theologians no longer knew the real bearing 
of the Christ's words, with their sometimes double 
and triple meanings, and saw none but the pri- 
mary and literal signification. For those who 
deeply studied the doctrine of the mysteries in 
India, Egypt, and Greece, the esoteric thought 
of the Christ animated not merely his slightest 
word, but every act of his life. Dimly perceptible 
in the three Synoptics, it springs into complete 
evidence in the Gospel of John. Here may be 
stated an instance touching an essential point of 
the doctrine : — 

Jesus happens to be passing by Jerusalem. He 
is not yet preaching in the temple, though he 
heals the sick and gives instruction to his friends. 
The work of love must prepare the ground into 
which the fruitful seed shall fall. Nicodemus, a 
learned Pharisee, had heard of the new prophet. 
Filled with curiosity, though unwilling to com- 
promise himself in the eyes of his sect, he re- 



314 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

quests with the Galilean a secret interview, which 
is granted. The Pharisee calls at his dwelling by 
night and says to him : " Rabbi, we know that thou 
art a teacher come from God: for no man can 
do these miracles that thou doest, except God be 
with him." Jesus replied: “ Verily, verily, I say 
unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot 
see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus asks if it is 
possible for a man to enter a second time into his 
mother's womb and be born. Jesus answered: 
“ Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of 
water and of the Spirit, he canqpt enter into the 
kingdom of God." 1 

Under this evidently symbolical form, Jesus sums 
up the ancient doctrine of regeneration already 
known in the mysteries of Egypt. To be born 
again of water and of the Spirit, to be baptized 
by water and by fire, mark two degrees of initiation, 
two stages of the inner and spiritual development 
of man. Water here represents truth perceived in- 
tellectually, i,e. in an abstract and general manner. 
It purifies the soul and develops its spiritual germ. 

Anew birth by the Spirit, or baptism by (heavenly) 
fire, signifies the assimilation of the truth by the 
will in such a way that it may become the blood 
and life, the very soul of every action. From this 

1 Jobs iii. 5. 



ESOTERIC INSTRUCTION 


3i5 

results the complete victory of spirit over matter, 
the absolute mastery of the spiritualised soul over 
the body transformed into a docile instrument ; 
a mastery which awakens its dormant faculties, 
opens its inner sense, and gives it an intuitive 
insight into truth, and a direct action of soul on 
soul. This state is equivalent to the heavenly one 
which Jesus Christ called the kingdom of God. 
Baptism by water, or intellectual initiation, is ac- 
cordingly the first step in rebirth ; baptism by 
the spirit is total rebirth, a transformation of the 
soul by the fire of intelligence and will, and 
consequently, to a certain extent, of the elements of 
the body — in a word, a radical regeneration. From 
this come the exceptional powers it gives to man. 

This is the earthly signification of the eminently 
theosophical conversation between Nicodemus and 
Jesus. There is also a special signification which 
might briefly be called the esoteric doctrine con- 
cerning the constitution of man. According to 
this doctrine, man is threefold; body, soul, and 
spirit. He has an immortal and indivisible part, 
the spirit ; a perishable and divisible part, the body. 
The soul which unites the two shares in the nature 
of both. Living organism as it is, it possesses an 
ethereal and fluidic body, similar to the material 
body, which, but for this invisible double, would 



316 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

have neither life, movement, nor unity. According 
as, man obqys the suggestions of the spirit or the 
impulses of the body, according as he attaches 
himself to the one or the other, the fluidic body 
becomes et^herealised or dulled ; unifies or becomes 
disaggregated. Accordingly, it happens that, after 
physical death, the majority of men have to submit 
to a second death of the soul, which consists in 
their being cleansed from the impure elements of 
the astral body, sometimes even in undergoing slow 
decomposition ; whilst the completely regenerated 
man, having formed on this earth his spiritual 
body, possesses his heaven in himself and enters 
the region to which his affinity attracts him. . . . 
Now water, in ancient esoterism, symbolises fluidic 
matter which is infinitely transformable, as fire 
symbolises the one spirit. In speaking of rebirth 
by water and spirit, the Christ makes allusion to 
that double transformation of his spiritual body and 
his fluidic envelope, which awaits man after death, 
and without which he cannot enter the kingdom 
of lofty souls and purified spirits. For “ that which 
is born of the flesh, is flesh (#W. chained down and 
perishable), and that which is born of the Spirit is 
spirit (u. free and immortal). Marvel not that I 
say' unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind 
bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound 



ESOTERIC INSTRUCTION 


3i7 

thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and 
whither it goeth : so is every one that is bom of 
the Spirit.” 1 

Thus* spoke Jesus to Nicodemus in the silence 
of the night at Jerusalem. A small lajnp, placed 
between the two, dimly lights their vague, uncertain 
forms. But the eyes of the Galilean Master shine 
with mysterious brilliancy through the darkness. 
How could one help believing in the soul, when 
looking into those eyes, now gently beaming, now 
flashing forth the glory of heaven ? The learned 
Pharisee has seen his knowledge of Scripture texts 
crumble away, but then he obtains a glimpse of a 
new world. He has seen a divine light in the face 
of the prophet, whose long auburn hair is falling 
over his shoulders. He has felt the powerful 
warmth emanating from his being draw him to 
the Master. He has seen small white flames like 
a magnetic halo appear and disappear around his 
brow and temples. And then he imagined he felt 
the breath of the Spirit pass over his heart. Moved* 
to his inmost soul, Nicodemus returned secretly in 
the silence of the night to his home. He will con- 
tinue to live among the Pharisees, but in the secrecy 
of his heart he will remain faithful to Jesus. 

Let us note one more important point in this 

1 John iii. 6-8. 



3 18 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

teaching. According to the materialistic doctrine, 
the soul is an ephemeral and accidental resultant of 
the forces of the body ; in the ordinary spiritualist 
doctrine it is something abstract, without any con- 
ceivable bpnd with the body ; in the esoteric doc- 
trine — the only rational one — the physical body 
is a product of the incessant work of the soul, 
which acts upon it by the similar organism of the 
astral body, just as the visible universe is only the 
dynamics of the infinite Spirit. This is the reason 
Jesus gives this doctrine to Nicodemus as explana- 
tion of the miracles he works. Ithnay indeed serve 
as a key to the occult healing art, practised by him 
and by a small number of adepts and saints before 
as well as after Christ. Ordinary medicine combats 
the evils of the body by acting on the latter. The 
adept or saint being a centre of spiritual and fluidic 
force, acts directly on the soul of the patient, and 
by his astral on his physical body. It is the same 
in all magnetic cures ; Jesus operates by means of 
forces existing in all men, but he operates in large 
doses by powerful and concentrated projections. 
He gives the Scribes and Pharisees his power of 
healing bodies as a proof of his power to pardon 
and heal th^ soul, his highci object. The physical 
cu»e thus becomes the counter proof of a moral 
cure, which permits of his saying to the man made 



MIRACLES 319 

whole, “ Rise and walk ! ” The science of to-day 
tries to explain the phenomenon which the ancients 
and middle ages called “ possession " as a simple 
nervous disorder. The explanation is insufficient. 
Psychologists who attempt to penetrate more deeply 
into the mystery of the soul see therein a duplica- 
tion of consciousness, an irruption of its latent 
part. This question touches that of the different 
planes of the human consciousness, which acts 
now on the one now on the other, the changing 
play being studied in different somnambulistic 
conditions. It also touches the sensitive world. 
In any case, it is certain Jesus had the faculty 
of restoring equilibrium in troubled bodies, and 
restoring souls to their purest consciousness. 
“Veritable magic, 11 said Plotinus, “is love, with 
hate its contrary. It is by love and hate that 
magicians act, through their philters and enchant- 
raents.” Love in its highest consciousness and 
supreme power constituted the magic of the 
Christ, 

Numerous disciples took part in his inner teach- 
ing. Still, in order to give lasting power to the 
new religion, there was needed an active group of 
chosen ones who should become the pillars of the 
spiritual temple he wished to erect over against tjie 
other ; hence the institution of the apostles. These 



320 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

he di|i*not dfioose from among the Essenes, as he 
needed men whose natures were vigorous and fresh 
to implant his religion in the very heart of the 
people. Two groups of brothers, Simon Peter 
and Andrew, the sons of Jonas, on the one hand, 
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, on the other, 
all four fisherman by occupation and belonging to 
respectable families, formed the first apostles. At 
the beginning of his career Jesus appears to them 
at Capernaum, by the lake of Gennesartth, where 
they were engaged in their daily occupation. He 
takes up his abode with them and converts the 
whole family. Peter and John stand out as pro- 
minent figures among the twelve. . . . Peter straight- 
forward and narrow-minded, easily influenced by 
either hope or discouragement, but at the same 
time a man of action, capable, by reason of his 
energetic character and absolute faith, of leading 
the others. , . . John, of a deep hidden nature, 
enthusiastic to such a degree that Jesus called him 
“the son of thunder/' his ardent soul always 
concentrated on itself, by disposition melancholy, 
and given to reverie, though subject to formidable 
outbursts and apocalyptic visions. His tenderness 
of soul, spite of all this, was such as the rest never 
suspected and only the Master knew. John alone, 
silent and contemplative, will understand the in- 



APOSTLES 


321 

most thought of the Christ. He will te the Evan- 
gelist of love and divine intelligence, the esoteric 
apostle par excellence. 

Persuaded by his words, convinced by his 
acts, dominated by his mighty intelligence, and 
encircled in his magnetic radiance, the apostles 
followed the Master from town to town. Preach- 
ing to the populace alternated with secret in- 
struction as he gradually opened out to them 
his thoughts. All the same, he still maintained 
profound silence concerning himself, his own 
future. He had told them that the kingdom of 
heaven was at hand, that the Messiah would 
soon come. The apostles were already whisper- 
ing to one another, i{ It is he ! " and repeating 
it to others. But Jesus, with gentle dignity, simply 
called himself u The Son of Man," an expression 
the esoteric signification of which they did not 
yet understand, though, in his mouth, it seemed 
to mean “ Messenger of suffering humanity.” For 
he added, 14 The foxes have their holes, but the 
Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.” 
It was only in accordance with the popular Jewish 
idea that the apostles had hitherto considered the 
Messiah, their simple hopes conceived of the 
kingdom of heaven as being a political govern- 
ment, of which Jesus would be the crowned king 



322 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

and they the mthisters. To combat this idea and 
radically transform it, revealing to the apostles 
the true Messiah, the spiritual royalty ; to com- 
municate to them this sublime truth he called 
the Father,, this supreme force he called the Spirit, 
mysteriously uniting all souls with the invisible ; 
to show them by his word, life, and death, a 
true S^p of God ; to leave them the conviction 
that they and all men were his brothers and 
could rejoin him if they wished ; and* finally to 
leave them, only after opening to their longing 
eyes the whole immensity of heatfen — this was the 
mighty work Jesus had begun upon his apostles. 
“Will they believe or not?' 1 is the question of 
the drama being played between them and him- 
self. Another question far more poignant and 
terrible is being asked in the depths of his own 
consciousness. To this we shall soon give our 
attention. 

For at this hour a wave of joy overwhelmed 
the tragic thought in the consciousness of the 
Christ. The tempest has not yet burst over the 
lake of Tiberias. It is the Galilean springtime 
of the Gospel, the dawn of the kingdom of God, 
the mystic union of the initiate with his spiritual 
family, which follows and travels with him as the 
procession of handmaidens follows the bridegroom 



WOMEN 


323 


in the parable. The believing crofrd hurries along 
in the footsteps of the beloved Master on the 
banks of the azure lake enclosed in the glorious 
hills as in a golden bowl. They go from the 
fragrant banks of Capernaum to # Bethsaida*s 
orange groves and the mountainous Chorazim, 
where the lake of Gennesareth is bordered by 
shady palms. In this procession the won^n have 
a place apart. The Master is everywhere sur- 
rounded by the mothers or sisters of his disciples, 
by timid virgins, or repentant Magdalenes. Atten- 
tive and faithful, impelled by passionate love, they 
scatter along his path eternal blossoms of sad- 
ness and hope. They at any rate need no proof 
that he is the Messiah : a single look into his 
face is sufficient for them. The wonderful felicity 
emanating from his aura, added to the note of 
divine unexpressed suffering they instinctively feel, 
persuades them that he is the Son of God. Jesus 
had early stifled in himself the cry of the flesh, 
during his stay among the Essenes he had tamed 
the might of the senses. This had given him an 
empire over souls and the divine power of pardon, 
a true angelic bliss. He says to the sinning 
woman now, with dishevelled hair, kneeling at the 
Master's feet, over which she pours the precious 
ointment : u Much shall be forgiven her, for she 



324 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

has loved much ! ” Sublime thought, containing 
an entire redemption, for pardon sets free. 

The Christ is the liberator and restorer of 
women, in spite of St. Paul and the Fathers of 
the Church who, by lowering woman to the role 
of man's servant, have wrongly interpreted the 
Master's thought. She had been glorified in Vedic 
times ;gBuddha had mistrusted her ; the Christ 
has raised her by restoring her mission of love 
and divination. The initiate Woman represents 
the soul of Humanity ; Aisha, as Moses had named 
it, t\e. the power of Intuition; the loving and 
seeing Faculty. The impetuous Mary Magdalene, 
out of whom, according to the biblical expression, 
Jesus had driven seven devils, became the most 
ardent of his disciples. She it was who first, 
St. John tells us, saw the divine Master, the 
spiritual Christ risen from the tomb. Legend has 
been obstinately bent on seeing in the passionate 
believing woman the greatest worshipper of Jesus, 
the heart-initiate, and legend has not been mis- 
taken, for her history represents the whole regene- 
ration of woman as desired by the Christ. 

It was in the farm of Bethany, near Martha, 
Mary and Mary Magdalene, that Jesus loved to rest 
from the labours of his mission, and prepare himself 
for supreme tests. There he lavished his tenderest 



WOMEN 


325 


words of comfort, and in sweet discourse spoke 
of the divine mysteries he dared not yet confide 
to his disciples. At times, as the sun was setting 
in the golden horizon of the west, half-hidden in 
the branches of the olive-groves, Jesus would 
become pensive, and a veil would overshadow his 
illumined countenance. He thought of the diffi- 
culties of his work, of the uncertain faitjj of the 
apostles, of the hostile powers of the world. 
The temple, Jerusalem, humanity itself, with its 
crime and ingratitude, seemed to overwhelm him 
beneath a living mountain. 

Would his arms upraised to heaven be strong 
enough to grind this mountain to powder, or 
would he himself be crushed beneath its mighty 
bulk? Then he spoke vaguely of a terrible trial 
which awaited him, and also of his coming end. 
Awed by his solemn tones, the women dared 
not question him. However unchangeable the 
Master's serenity of soul might be, they under- 
stood that it was as though wrapped about with 
the shroud of an indescribable sadness, separating 
him from the joys of earth. They had a pre- 
sentiment of the prophet’s dbstiny, they felt his 
invincible power of resolution. What was the 
meaning of those gloomy clouds which arose 
from the direction of Jerusalem ? Wherefore this 



326 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

burning wind of fever and death, passing over 
their hearts as over the blighted hills of Judaea, 
with their violet cadaverous hues ? One evening — 
a star of mystery — a tear shone in Jesus 1 eyes. 

* A shudder* passed through the frames of the 
women, their tears also flowed in silence. They 
were lamenting over him ; he was lamenting over 
all mankind 1 



CHAPTER V 


STRUGGLE WITH THE PHARISEES — FLIGHT TO 
CiESAREA — THE TRANSFIGURATION 

This Galilean springtime, during which the dawn 
of the Kingdom of Heaven seemed to rise upon the 
attentive multitudes, lasted two years. Now, how- 
ever, the sky darkened, sinister flashes appeared, 
forerunners of catastrophe. The storm burst upon 
the small family at Galilee like one of those tem- 
pests which sweep the lake of Gennesareth, and in 
their wild fury engulf the fishermen's frail barques. 
Jesus was in no way surprised at the consternation 
and terror of his disciples, he fully expected it. 
It was impossible that his preaching and increas- 
ing popularity should not stir the religious autho-« 
rities of the Jews, and just as impossible that the 
struggle should not be a complete one between 
these authorities and himself. On the contrary, 
from this conflict alone coirfd light flash forth. 

At the time of Jesus the Pharisees formed a com- 
pact body of six thousand men. Their name 
Perishin means « separate ” or “distinguished." 



328 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

Of a lofty and often heroic though narrow and 

haughty patriotism, they represented the party of 

national restoration ; their existence only dated 

from the Maccabees. They acknowledged both 

an oral and a written tradition. They believed in 
r * 

angels, a future life and resurrection, but the 
glimpses of esoterism which came to them from 
Persia they buried beneath the darkness of a gross 
material interpretation. Strict observers of the law, 
though quite opposed to the spirit of the prophets 
who placed religion in the love of God and of men, 
they made piety consist of rites and ceremonies, 
fasts and public penance. On great occasions they 
were to be seen in the open streets, their faces 
covered with soot, praying aloud with contrite mien, 
and ostentatiously distributing alms. In contradis- 
tinction to all this they lived in luxury, eagerly 
intriguing after authority and power. None the 
less were they the chiefs of the democratic party, 
holding the people under their control. 

The Sadducees, on the other hand, represented 
the sacerdotal and aristocratic party. They were 
composed of families whose pretension it was to 
have exercised priesthood by hereditary right ever 
since the time of David. Extreme in their conser- 
vatism they rejected oral tradition, accepted nothing 
but the letter of the law, and denied the existence 



STRUGGLE WITH THE PHARISEES 329 

of the soul and a future life. They ridiculed alike 
the stormy practices of the Pharisees and their 
extravagant beliefs. For them, religion consisted 
entirely in sacerdotal ceremonies. Under the 
Seleucides they had deprived the pontificate of 
power, as they were in complete accord with the 
pagans, and were even imbued with Greek sophistry 
and refined Epicurism. Under the Maccabees the 
Pharisees had been ejected from the pontificate, 
though, under Herod and the Romans, they had 
apparently regained this position. The Sadducees 
were stern and hard-hearted as men, and lovers of 
good cheer as priests, possessed of one faith, that of 
their own superiority, and of one idea, the determi- 
nation to maintaih the power tradition had handed 
down to them. 

In such a religion what could Jesus find, Jesus 
the initiate, inheritor of the prophets, the Seer of 
Engaddi, seeking in social order the image of the 
divine, in which justice reigns over life, science 
over justice, and love and wisdom over all three ? 
• . . In the temple, instead of supreme science and 
initiation, he found materialistic and agnostic 
ignorance, playing on religion as on a power-giving 
instrument, in other words, priestly imposture. . . . 
In schools and synagogues, instead of the br^ad 
of life, and the dew from heaven falling upon men’s 



330 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

hearts, he saw an interested morality under the 

veneer of formal worship, i.e. hypocrisy. . . . Far 

above, enthroned in a nimbus of glory, sat almighty 

Caesar, the apotheosis of evil and the deification of 

matter, thejsole god of the then world, only possible 

master of the Sadducees and Pharisees, whether 

they wished it so or not. In adopting the idea 

from Persian esoterism as did the prophets, was 

Jesus wrong in naming this reign the dominion of 

Satan or Ahrimanes, i.e. the rule of matter over 

spirit, in place of which he wished to substitute 

that of spirit over matter ? Like all great reformers, 

he attacked not men, who as exceptions, might be 

excellent, but doctrines and institutions which mould 

the majority of mankind. The challenge must be 

delivered, and war declared against the existing 

#■ 

powers. 

The struggle began in the synagogues of Galilee 
and continued beneath the porticoes of the temple 
at Jerusalem, to which Jesus made lengthened visits, 
preaching and replying to his opponents. In this 
as throughout his whole career, he acted with that 
mixture of prudence and boldness, meditative re- 
serve and impetuous action, which characterised 
his wonderfully well-balanced nature. He did not 
take the offensive against his opponents, but waited 
and replied to their attack, which never tarried, 



STRUGGLE WITH THE PHARISEES 331 

for, from the very beginning of his ministry, the 
Pharisees had been jealous of him by reason of 
his popularity and his healing of the sick. They 
quickly suspected him to be their most dangerous 
enemy. Accosting him with that mocking urbanity, 
that cunning malevolence, veiled beneath a mask 
of hypocritical gentleness, in which they were past- 
masters, in their role as learned doctors and men 
of importance and authority, they asked what 
reasons he had for having dealings with publicans 
and sinners ? Why did his disciples dare to pluck 
ears of corn on the Sabbath day ? Such conduct 
constituted a grave violation of their regulations. 
With magnanimous gentleness, Jesus replied in 
words at once tender and courteous. He tried 
on them his gospel of love, spoke of the love of 
God, who rejoices more over one repentant sinner 
than over many just persons. He related to them 
the parables of the lost sheep and of the prodigal 
son. In embarrassed astonishment they held their 
peace. Uniting again, they returned to the charge, 
reproaching him for healing the sick on the Sabbath 
day. “ Hypocrites 1" replied Jesus, a flash of in- 
dignation illumining his eyes, “ do not you on the 
Sabbath day remove the chain from your own 
oxen's neck and lead them away to the waterjng- 
trough ? ♦May <not therefore the daughter of Abra- 



332 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

ham be delivered this same day from the chains 
of Satan ?” No longer knowing what to reply, 
the Pharisees accused him of casting out devils 
in the name of Beelzebub. With quite as much 
wit as logical acumen, Jesus replied that the devil 
does not cast himself out, adding that sin against 
the Son of Man will be forgiven, but not sin against 
the Holy Ghost, signifying thereby that he attached 
slight importance to insults against himself per- 
sonally, but that a denial of the Good and the True, 
when once established, constitutes intellectual per- 
versity, the supreme vice and an irremediable evil. 
This was a declaration of war. He was called 
Blasphemer 1 Agent of Beelzebub ! which accusa- 
tions he answered by the expressions : Hypocrites ! 
Generation of vipers I From this time the struggle 
continually increased in bitterness. Jesus gave evi- 
dence of a close incisive logic, his words lashed like 
whips and pierced like arrows. He had changed 
tactics ; instead of defending himself, he attacked 
and replied to charges by other charges more 
vigorous still, showing no pity for hypocrisy, the 
one vice at the root of all others. u Why trans- 
gress ye the law of God by reason of your tradi- 
tions ? God commanded, Honour thy father and 
thy c mother ; you dispense with honouring parents, 
if, as alternative, money flows into the temple* 



STRUGGLE WITH THE PHARISEES 333 

With your lips you serve Isaiah, but your devotion 
is devoid of heart.” 

Jesus ever kept perfect control over himself, 
though the enthusiasm and greatness of the struggle 
daily increased. The more he was attacked, the 
more emphatically did he proclaim himself as the 
Messiah. He began to utter threats against the 
temple, to foretell the misfortunes that Israel would 
undergo, to appeal to the heathen, and to say that 
the Lord would send other labourers into his vine- 
yard. Thereupon the Pharisees of Jerusalem be- 
came anxious. Seeing they could neither impose 
silence on him nor find any effective retort, they 
too changed tactics. Their idea now was to en- 
snare him, so they sent deputations whose object 
it was to induce him to utter heretical sayings 
which would warrant the Sanhedrim in laying 
hands on him as a blasphemer, in the name of 
the law of Moses, or the Roman governor in 
condemning him as a rebel. Hence the insidious 
question concerning the woman taken in adultery, 
and the coin stamped with Caesar’s image. Ever 
penetrating the designs of his enemies, Jesus, 
with profound psychology and skilful strategy, dis- 
armed them by his replies. Finding it impossible 
to effect their object by these means, the Pharisees 
attempted *to intimidate him by annoying him at 



334 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

every turn. Worked upon and excited by them, 
the majority of the people began to turn away from 
Jesus when they saw that he was not restoring the 
kingdom of Israel. Everywhere, even in the smallest 
of hamlets, he met suspicious and wily counten- 
ances, spies, and treacherous emissaries to track 
and dishearten him. Some came and said to him, 
“ Depart from here, for Herod (Antipas) is bent on 
killing thee." He replied proudly, “Go tell that 
fox; it cannot be that a prophet die out of Jeru- 
salem 1 " Nevertheless, he was often obliged to 
cross the sea of Tiberias and take refuge on the 
eastern bank in order to escape these snares. 
Nowhere was he now free from danger. Meanwhile 
John the Baptist was put to death by order of 
Antipas in the fortress of Makerous. It is said 
that Hannibal, on seeing the head of his brother 
Hasdrubal, killed by the Romans, exclaimed; 
“Now I recognise the fate of Carthage." Jesus 
could recognise his own fate in the death of his 
precursor. He had had no doubt of this ever 
since his vision at Engaddi ; had begun his work, 
knowing the inevitable end, and yet this news, 
when brought by the sorrow-stricken disciples of 
the prophet of the wilderness, struck Jesus as a 
de^th-warning. He exclaimed : 41 They did not 
recognise him, but have done with him as they 



FLIGHT TO CAESAREA 335 

wished, thus shall the Son of Man suffer at their 
hands.” 

The twelve were troubled and anxious ; Jesus 
was hesitating on his pathway. He did not wish 
to let himself be taken, but rather, oncp his work 
finished, to offer himself of his own free will, and 
die as a prophet at the hour he himself should 
choose. Already hunted down during the whole 
of the past year, accustomed to escape from the 
enemy by making marches and counter-marches, 
disheartened with the people, whose apathy, after 
days of enthusiasm, he was keenly conscious of, 
Jesus determined once more to escape with his 
disciples. Reaching the summit of a mountain, he 
turned round to cast one final lingering look on his 
beloved lake, on whose banks he had wished the 
dawn of the Kingdom of Heaven to shine. His 
eyes wandered over those towns lying by the water- 
side, or rising tier upon tier along the mountain-side, 
half buried in their verdant oases, and now glittering 
with white beneath the golden veil of twilight ; those 
beloved towns in which he had sown the words of 
life, and which now abandoned him. A presenti- 
ment of the future came over him. With prophetic 
vision he saw this splendid country changed into a 
wilderness beneath the vengeful hand of Ishmael, 
and those words, devoid of anger, though full of 



336 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

sorrow and bitterness, fell from his lips: “Woe 
unto thee, Capernaum ; woe unto thee, Chorazim ; 
woe unto thee, Bethsaida ! ” Then turning towards 
the heathen world, accompanied by his disciples, 
he took the path leading along the Jordan valley 
from Gadara to Caesarea Philippi. 

Sad and long was the route of the fugitive band 
across the mighty plain of reeds and the marshes of 
the upper Jordan under the burning Syrian sun. 
The nights were passed beneath the tents of shep- 
herds, or with such Essenes as were living in the 
small hamlets of this abandoned country. The 
anxious disciples proceeded with downcast eyes ; 
the Master, filled with sorrow, remained plunged 
in silent meditation. He was reflecting on the im- 
possibility of the triumph of his doctrine by preach- 
ing to the people, and on the unremitting plottings 
of his enemies. The final struggle was becoming 
imminent, he had reached a terrible difficulty ; how 
was he to escape ? On the other hand, his thoughts 
dwelt with anxiety on his spiritual family now 
scattered abroad, and especially on the twelve 
apostles, who, in faith and trust, had left every- 
thing — family, profession, and fortune — to follow 
him, and who, in spite of all, would soon be heart- 
broken and deceived in their mighty hope of a 
triumphant Messiah. Could he leave them to 



FLIGHT TO OESAREA 


337 


themselves ? Had the truth sufficiently penetrated 
their souls ? Would they believe in him, and in his 
doctrine, at all events ? Did they know who he 
was? Dominated by this thought, he one day 
asked them : “ Whom say men that I, the Son of 
Man, am? ” They replied, "Some say that thou 
art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others 
Jeremias, or one of the prophets." Then Jesus 
said unto them, " But whom say ye that I am?” 
Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the 
Christ, the Son of the living God." 1 

In the mouth of Peter, and the thought of 
Jesus, these words have not the signification the 
Church at a later date wished to give them : " Thou 
art the Elect of Israel announced by the prophets." 
In the Hindoo, the Egyptian, and the Greek initia- 
tion, the term (t Son of God " signified u a conscious- 
ness identified with divine truth, a will capable of 
manifesting it." According to the prophets, this 
Messiah must be the greatest of these manifes- 
tations. He would be the Son of Man, ue. the 
Elect of earthly Humanity ; the Son of God, i.e. 
the Envoy of heavenly Humanity, and, as such, 
having in himself the Father or Spirit, who, by 
Humanity, reigns over the universe. 

At this affirmation of the faith of the apostles Jesus 

1 Matt, xvi, 13-16. 

Y 



338 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

felt an immense Joy. So his disciples had under- 
stood him ; he would live in them, and the bond 
between heaven and earth would be re-established. 
Jesus said to Peter, “ Happy art thou, Simon son 
of Jonas, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it 
unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven/' By 
this reply Jesus gives Peter to understand that he 
considers him as an initiate, as he himself was, and 
also possessed of a deep insight into truth. This is 
the true, the only revelation, this is “the stone on 
which the Christ wishes to build his Church, and 
against which the gates of hell shall not prevail." 
Jesus relies on the Apostle Petdf, only in so far as 
he shall have this intuition. A moment later, on 
the apostle reverting to the ordinary, fear-stricken 
Peter, the Master treats him in quite a different 
fashion. Jesus had announced to his disciples that 
he was about to be put to death at Jerusalem, and 
Peter protested with the words, “Be it far from 
thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee l" But 
Jesus, as though seeing a temptation of the flesh in 
this impulse of sympathy, attempting to shake his 
mighty resolution, turned sharply round to the 
apostle and said, “Get thee behind me, Satan, 
thou art an offence unto me, for thou savourest 
not the things that be of God, but those that be 
0 1 men " (Matt. xvi. .2 1-2 3), And the Master's im- 



FLIGHT TO C^SAREA 339 

perious gesture seemed to say, Forward through 
the desert ! ” Intimidated by his solemn voice and 
stern look, the apostles bowed their heads in silence, 
and resumed their journey over the stone hills of 
the Gaulonitide. This flight, by which Jesus brought * 
his disciples out of Israel, resembled a march towards 
the problem of his Messianic destiny, the key to 
which he was seeking. 

They reached the gates of Caesarea. That town, 
which had become pagan since the time of Antiochus 
the Great, was sheltered within a verdant oasis near 
the Jordan's source, at the foot of Hermon’s snowy 
peaks. It had its amphitheatre, and was resplendent 
with costly palaces and Grecian temples. Jesus 
crossed it, and continued to the spot at which the 
Jordan in a clear bubbling stream issues from a 
mountain cavern, like the stream of life springing 
from the profound bosom of nature. There was 
erected a small temple dedicated to Pan ; and in 
the grotto, on the banks of the stream, numerous 
columns, marble nymphs, and pagan divinities. 
The Jews held in horror these token's of idolatrous 
worship, Jesus contemplated them with an indulgent 
smile. In them he recognised the imperfect effigies 
of the divine beauty, whose radiant models he bore 
within his own soul. He had not come to utter male- 
dictions against paganism, but to transform it ; hot 



3 4 o JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

to scatter anathema on earth and its mysterious 
powers, but to point out to it the way to heaven. 
His heart was large enough, and his doctrine suf- 
ficiently vast, to embrace all people, and to say 
to men of every religion : “ Raise your heads, and 
learn that you all have one same Father.” And 
yet, there he was at the extreme limit of Israel, 
hunted like a wild beast, stifled between two peoples 
who rejected him alike. In front, the heathen 
who did not yet understand him, and on whom 
his words fell powerless ; behind, the Jews, a 
people which stoned its prophets, and stopped its 
ears, so as not to hear its Messiah ; whilst all the 
time the Pharisees and Sadducees were watching 
their prey. What superhuman courage, what un- 
precedented power of action would be needed to 
crush all these obstacles, to penetrate beyond 
heathen idolatry and Jewish harshness right to 
the heart of that suffering humanity he loved with 
every fibre of his being, and induce it to listen to 
his resurrection message 1 Then suddenly his 
mind went back to bygone times, descending once 
again the stream of the Jordan, Israel's sacred river, 
passing from the temple of Pan to that of Jeru- 
salem, measuring the distance which separated 
ancient paganism from the universal prophetic 
thought, and, regaining its source, as an eagle its 



THE TRANSFIGURATION 341 

nest, returned from the anguish of Caesarea to the 
vision of Engaddi ! And now, from the depths of 
the Dead Sea, he sees this terrible phantom of the 
cross once more spring forth ! . . . Had the hour 
of the great sacrifice at length come ? Jesus, like 
all men, possessed two consciousnesses ; the earthly 
one lulled him with illusions, saying : “ Who 

knows? Perhaps I shall escape this destiny.'" 
The other, the divine one, repeated implacably: 
"The path of victory passes through the gate of 
anguish." Must he choose this latter voice ? 

At all important epochs in his life we see Jesus 
withdraw to the mountain to pray. Had not the 
Vedic sage said, “ Prayer upholds heaven and rules 
the Gods " ? Jesus knew this greatest of all forces. 
Usually he admitted of no companion in this 
mountain solitude when he descended into the 
inmost elements of his being. This time, however, 
he took with him Peter and the two sons of 
Zebedee, James and John, to spend the night on 
the summit of a lofty mountain. Legend states 
this to have been Mount Tabor. There, between 
the Master and three of the greatest initiates among 
the disciples, the mysterious scene related in the 
Gospels under the name of the Transfiguration , 
took place 1 According to Matthew, the apostles 
saw Master's form, luminous and apparently 



342 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

diaphanous, appear in the transparent twilight of 
the Eastern night. His face shone like the sun, 
and his garments became brilliant as the light ; 
at his side appeared two figures, which they took 
for those of Moses aod Elijah. As, trembling, 
they emerged from their strange prostration, which 
seemed to them at once a profounder sleep and a 
more intense waking state, they saw the Master 
alone by their side, restoring them to full con- 
sciousness by his touch. The transfigured Christ 
they had contemplated in this dream was never 
effaced from their memory (Matt § xvii. 1-8). 

But what had Jesus himself seen and passed 
through during that night which preceded the most 
decisive act of his prophetic career? A gradual 
effacing of earthly things, beneath the ardour of 
prayer, a rapturous ascent from sphere to sphere. 
He seemed by degrees to be returning along the 
depths of his consciousness into some previous 
existence, an altogether spiritual and divine one. 
Far in the distance were suns, worlds, earths, 
vortices of suffering incarnations ; now he was 
conscious of one homogeneous atmosphere, one 
fluid substance, one intelligent light. Within this 
radiance legions of celestial beings form a moving 
vaujt, a firmament of ethereal bodies, white as 
^now, \yhence beam forth gentle flashes of light. 



THE TRANSFIGURATION 


343 


On the shining cloud where he is standing six 
men in priestly robes, and mighty of stature, raise 
aloft, with joined hands, a dazzling Chalice. These 
are the six Messiahs who have already appeared on 
earth ; the seventh is himself, and this Cup signifies 
the Sacrifice he must undergo, by incarnating him- 
self on earth in his turn. Beneath the cloud is 
heard the roar of thunder ; there yawns a black 
abyss ; the circle of generations, the pit of life and 
death, the terrestrial hell. The Sons of God with 
suppliant gesture raise the Cup, the very firmament 
of heaven is silent, as Jesus, in token of assent, 
extends his arms in the form of a cross as though 
he wished to embrace the whole universe. Then 
the Sons of God bow down their faces to the earth, 
a band of female angels, with outspread wings and 
downcast eyes, carry off the incandescent Chalice 
towards the vault of light. The hosanna resounds, 
with ineffably melodious strains, throughout the 
heavens. . . . But he, without even listening to it, 
plunges into the pit. . . . 

This is what had taken place long ago among 
the Essenes, in the bosom of the Father, where 
the mysterious rites of Eternal Love are cele- 
brated and the revolutions of the constellations 
pass, light as waves. This is what he had sworn 
to accomplish, this is the reason of his birth* and 



344 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

the purpose of his past struggles. And now, once 
more this mighty oath bound him down at the 
end of his task. 

Terrible oath, dreaded chalice ! Still, it must be 
drained to the dregs. After all this rapturous bliss 
he awoke in the depths of the pit, on the brink of 
martyrdom. No further doubt was possible ; the 
time was at hand. Heaven had spoken and Earth 
cried aloud for help. 

Retracing his steps, Jesus once again descended 
the valley of the Jordan, and proceeded by slow 
stages along the road to Jerusalem. 



CHAPTER VI 


FINAL JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM — THE PROMISE 

THE SUPPER — TRIAL OF JESUS— DEATH AND 
RESURRECTION 

** HOSANNA to the son of David!" This was the 
cry which greeted Jesus as he entered by the 
eastern gate of Jerusalem, along streets covered 
with branches of palm trees. They who welcomed 
him with such enthusiasm were adherents of the 
Galilean prophet who had assembled from both 
without and within the town to greet him with 
this ovation. They were welcoming him who was 
to free Israel, who would soon be crowned king. 
Even the twelve apostles still shared this illusion 
in spite of all Jesus had said. He alone, the pro- 
claimed Messiah, knew that he was advancing to 
his death, and that only afterwards would even 
his disciples penetrate the inner sanctuary of his 
thought. Resolutely was he offering himself, of 
his own free will, and fully conscious of the end. 
Hence his resignation, his sweet serenity. As he 
passed beneath the colossal porch, cut in the 
gloomy fortress of Jerusalem, the cry resounded 

MS 



34 * JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

beneath the vault and pursued him like the voice 
of Destiny, seizing its prey : “ Hosanna to the son 
of David ! ** 

By this solemn entrance into the city, Jesus 
publicly declared to the religious authorities of 
Jerusalem, that he took upon himself the role of 
the Messiah, with all its consequences. The follow- 
ing^morning he appeared in the temple, in the 
- Gentiles* Court, and, advancing towards the cattle- 
dealers and money-changers who by usury and the 
deafening jingle of money profaned the precincts 
of the holy place, he uttered againjt them Isaiah*s 
words: “ It is written, My house shall be called 
the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of 
thieves/* The dealers fled, carrying off their tables 
and money-bags, intimidated by the partisans of 
the prophet who formed a solid rampart around 
him, and even more terrified by his imperious 
gesture and flashing look. The astonished priests 
marvelled at this boldness and manifestation of 
power. A deputation from the Sanhedrim came 
demanding an explanation, with the words : " By 
what authority doest thou these things ? *’ To this 
insidious question Jesus, as was his wont, replied 
by a question no less embarrassing for t his enemies. 

“ Whence was the baptism of John, from heaven 
gr of men ?** Had the Pharisees replied : “ From 



FILIAL JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM 347 

heaven/' Jesus would have said : “ Then why did 
you not believe him?" Had they said “ From 
men, ” they would have had to consider the anger 
of the people who looked upon John the Baptist 
as a prophet. Accordingly, they replied : “ We 
cannot tell/' “ Neither tell I you," said Jesus, “by 
what authority I do these things." Once the blow 
warded off, however, he assumed the offensive and 
added : “ Verily I say unto you, the publicans 
and harlots go into the kingdom of God before 
you." Then in a parable, he compared them to 
the wicked husbandman, who kills his master's 
son so as to inherit the vineyard ; and he called 
himself “the stone which had become the head 
of the corner, and which should grind into powder 
whomsoever it should fall upon," These acts and 
words show that, in making this final journey to 
Israel's capital, Jesus wished to cut off all retreat. 
His enemies had long been in possession of the 
two great keys of accusation necessary for his 
ruin : his threats against the temple, and the 
affirmation that he .was the Messiah. These 
last attacks exasperated his enemies ; from that 
moment his death, determined upon by the au- 
thorities, was only a matter of time. Since his 
entrance into Jerusalem, the most influential 
members of the Sanhedrim, Scribes and pharisees, 



348 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

reconciled in common hatred against Jesus, had 
come to an understanding on the death of this 
44 seducer of the people.” They hesitated only on 
the matter of seizing him in public, for they dreaded 
a rising of the people. On different occasions 
already, officials sent against him had returned, 
won over by his words, or alarmed at the multi- 
tudes of people. Often had the soldiers of the 
temple seen him disappear from their midst in 
mysterious fashion. So also had the Emperor 
Domitian, fascinated and struck with blindness so 
to speak, by the image he wish^fl to condemn, 
seen Apollonius of Tyana disappear from before 
the tribunal and from the midst of his guards! 
The struggle between Jesus and the priests thus 
continued from day to day with increasing hatred 
on their side, and on his, an enthusiastic strength 
and impetuosity, given him by the certainty he 
felt as to the fatal issue. This was his last assault 
against the powers of the day ; in it he manifested 
a mighty energy as well as the masculine force 
which like a coat of mail clothed that sublime 
tenderness of his, which might be called: The 
Eternal- Feminine of his soul. This formidable 
combat ended in terrible maledictions against these 
debaters of religion : u Woe unto you Scribes and 
Phariseef, who shut up the kingdom of heaven 



FINAL JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM 349 

against such as wish to enter in. Ye fools and 
blind, who pay tithes and neglect justice, pity, 
and fidelity ; ye are like unto whited sepulchres 
which appear beautiful from without, but are within 
full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness.” 

After having thus branded as religious hypocrisy 
and false sacerdotal authority what had for centuries 
held sway, Jesus considered his struggles at an end. 
He left Jerusalem with his disciples and proceeded 
to the Mount of Olives. As they ascended, Herod's 
temple could be seen in all its majesty, with its 
terraces and vast porticoes, its sculpturing of white 
marble incrusted with jasper and porphyry, and 
its dazzling roof of gold and silver. The disciples, 
discouraged and under the presentiment of a 
catastrophe, drew the master's attention to the 
splendour of the building he was leaving for ever. 
Their words were tinged with melancholy and 
regret, for, to the last, they had hoped to take their 
seats therein as judges of Israel around the Messiah, 
the crowned priest-king. Jesus turned, facing 
the v temple, and said : (i See ye not all these 
things ? Verily I say unto you, there shall not 
be left here one stone upon another, that shall 
# not be thrown down ” 1 He was judging the 
duration of the temple of Jehovah by the moral 

* Matthew xxiv. a. 



35P JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

worth of those who ruled therein. He meant 
that fanaticism, intolerance, and hatred were not 
sufficient arms against the battle-axes and battering- 
rams of the Roman Caesar. With the insight of 
the initiate which had become more intense through 
that clairvoyance given by the approach of death, 
he saw the Judaic pride, the policy of their king, 
the whole Jewish history, terminate fatally in this 
catastrophe. Triumph did not exist there, it was 
rather in the prophetic thought, the universal 
religion, that invisible temple which he alone at 
that hour had full consciousness of. As for the 
ancient citadel of Zion and the femple of stone, 
he already saw the angel of destruction standing, 
sword in hand, at its doors. 

Jesus knew that his hour was nigh, but he did not 
wish to fall into the hands of the Sanhedrim, so he 
withdrew to Bethany. As he had a predilection for 
the Mount of Olives, he came there almost daily to 
converse with his disciples. From the summit the 
view was magnificent. The range of vision em- 
braces the rugged mountains of Judaea and Moab, 
with their purplish-blue tints, whilst away in the 
distance could be caught a glimpse of the Dead 
Sea, like a leaden-hued mirror from whose surface 
rise dense sulphurous mists. At the foot of the 
mountain stretched Jerusalem, the Temple, and the 



FINAL JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM 351 

citadel of Zion towering above all other edifices. 
Even in these days, as twilight descends on the dark, 
mysterious gorges of Hinnom and Jehoshaphat, the 
city of David and of the Christ, protected by the 
sons of Ishmael, rises in imposing majesty above 
these gloomy valleys. Its cupolas and minarets 
reflect the fading light of the heavens and seem to 
be ever awaiting the angels of judgment. It was 
there Jesus gave the disciples his final instructions 
regarding the future of the religion he had come to 
found, and the destiny of mankind, thus bequeathing 
them his promise — at once terrestrial and divine — 
intimately wedded with his esoteric teaching. 

Evidently the writers of the Synoptic Gospels 
have handed down to us tne apocalyptic sayings 
of Jesus amid a confusion which renders them 
almost impenetrable. Their meaning only begins 
to become intelligible in John’s Gospel. If Jesus 
had really believed in -his return on the clouds, 
some years after his death, as is admitted according 
to the naturalistic interpretation ; or if he had 
imagined that the end of the world, and the last 
judgment of men would take place in this manner, 
as orthodox theology believes, he would have been 
a very ordinary visionary indeed, instead of the 
aage initiate, the sublime seer every word of his 
teaching and every action of his life proclainThim 



352 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

to have been. It is evident that here, especially, his 
words must be understood in their allegorical sig- 
nification according to the transcendent symbolism 
of the prophets. John's Gospel, the one which has 
most fully handed down to us the Master's esoteric 
teaching, emphasises this interpretation, so perfectly 
in accord as it is with the parabolical genius of Jesus, 
when he relates the Master's words : 44 1 have yet 
many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear 
them now. . , . These things have I spoken unto 
you in parables, but the time cometh when I shall 
no more speak unto you in parables, but I shall 
show you plainly of the Father.” 

The solemn promise of Jesus to the apostles 
embraces four objects, four increasing spheres of 
planetary and cosmic life : the individual psychic 
life ; the national life of Israel ; the earthly evolution 
and end of humanity as well as the divine. Let us 
take one by one these four spheres through which 
radiates the thought of the Christ before his martyr- 
dom, like the setting sun, filling with its glory the 
whole terrestrial atmosphere right to the zenith, 
before shining on other worlds. 

i „ The first judgment signifies the ultimate destiny 
of the soul after death. This is determined by its 
own inner nature and the acts of its life. I h ave 
already expounded this doctrine, with reference to 



THE PROMISE 


353 

Jesus* conversation with Nicodemus. On the Mount 
of Olives he says to his disciples: “Take heed to 
yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be over- 
charged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and 
cares of this life, and so that day come upon you 
unawares/* 1 And again : u Be ye also ready : for 
in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man 
cometh.” * 

2 . The destruction of the temple and the end of 
Israel. ‘'Nation shall rise against nation. . . . They 
shall deliver you up to be afflicted. . . . Verily I 
say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all 
these things be fulfilled." 8 

3. The terrestrial aim of humanity which is not 
fixed at some definite epoch, but must be reached 
by a graduated series of successive realisations. 
This aim is the coming of the social Christ or the 
divine man on earth ; i.e. the organisation of Truth, 
Justice, and Love in human society, and con- 
sequently, the pacification of the nations. Isaiah 
bad already foretold this distant epoch in a 
splendid vision beginning with the words : " For I 
know their works and their thoughts ; it shall come 
that I will gather all nations and tongues ; and they 
shall come and see my glory. And I will set a sign 

1 Luke wd. 34. • Matthew xtir. 4 4 ? 

* Matthew xxiv, 4-34. 

u. z 



354 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

among them/' &c. f Ac. 1 Jesus completing this 
prophecy explains to his disciples what this sign 
shall be ; the complete unveiling of the mysteries 
or the coining of the Holy Ghost, whom he also 
calls the Comforter or “ the spirit of Truth which 
shall lead you into all truth." * The apostles shall 
have this revelation beforehand, the mass of 
humanity in the course of time. But whenever 
it takes place in an individual consciousness or 
among a group of men, it pierces through and 
through. “For as the lightning cometh out of 
the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall 
also the coming of the Son of man be.” 1 Thus, 
when the central and spiritual truth is kindled it 
illumines all other truths throughout creation. 

4. The last judgment signifies the end of the 
cosmic evolution of humanity, or its entrance into 
a definitely spiritual state. This is what Persian 
Esoterism had called the victory of Ormuzd over 
the Ahrimanes, or of Spirit over Matter. Hindu 
Esoterism named it the complete re-absorption of 
matter by Spirit, or the end of a day of Brahma. 
After thousands of centuries a period must come 
when, through series of births and rebirths, in- 
carnations and regenerations, the individuals com- 

* Itthb lanri. 18, ftc. 1 John xiv. *6-«y. 


• Matthew wdt. 2 7 . 



THE PROMISE 355 

posing a humanity shall have definitely entered 
the spiritual state, or been annihilated as conscious 
souls by evil, i.e, by their own passions symbolised by 
the fire of Gehenna and gnashing of teeth. “ Then 
shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven 
. . . they shall see the Son of man coming in the 
clouds. . • . He shall send his angels with a great 
sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together 
his elect from the four winds." 1 The Son of mati % a 
generic term, here signifies humanity in its perfect 
representation, i.e, the small number of those who 
have raised themselves to the rank of Sons of God. 
His Sign is the Lamb and the Cross, i.e. Love 
and Eternal Life. The Cloud is the image of the 
Mysteries which have become translucent, as well 
as of the subtle matter transfigured by the spirit, 
of the fluidic substance which is no longer a dense 
obscure veil, but a light transparent garment of 
the soul, no longer a gross obstacle, but an ex- 
pression of the truth ; no longer a deceptive 
appearance but spiritual truth itself, the inner 
world instantaneously and directly manifested. 
The Angels who gather together the Elect are 
glorified spirits, who have themselves sprung from 
humanity. The Trumpet they sound symbolises 
the living word of the Spirit, which lays baretthe 

1 Matthew xxiv. 30, 31. 



356 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

real nature of the soul, and destroys all lying 
appearances of matter. 

Jesus, feeling his end near, thus explained to 
his astonished disciples the lofty perspectives 
which from bygone times had formed part of the 
doctrine of the mysteries, but to which each reli- 
gious founder has always given personal form and 
colour. To engrave these truths on their minds 
and facilitate their propagation, he summed them 
up in such images as were characterised by extreme 
boldness and incisive energy. The revealing image 
and speaking symbol formed the universal language 
of the ancient initiates. Such a language possesses 
a communicative virtue, a power of concentration 
and duration lacking in the abstract term. In 
using it, Jesus merely followed the example of 
Moses and the prophets. He knew the Idea would 
not immediately be understood, but he wished to 
impress it in letters of flame in the simple souls 
of his followers, leaving to succeeding ages the 
task of generating the powers contained in his 
word. Jesus feels himself one with all the 
prophets of the earth who had gone before, as he 
had done, messengers of Life and of the eternal 
Word. In this sentiment of unity and solidarity 
with immutable truth, he dared address to his 
|ffiicte4 disciples the proud words : " Heaven and 



THE PROMISE 


357 

earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass 
away/' 

These mornings and evenings on the Mount of 
Olives flew swiftly by. One day, obedient to an 
impulse peculiar to his ardent and impressionable 
nature, which caused him suddenly to descend 
from the most sublime heights to the sufferings 
of earth, which he felt as his own, he shed tears 
over Jerusalem, the hol^ city and its inhabitants, 
whose frightful destiny he foresaw. His own was 
also approaching with giant strides. The San- 
hedrim had already discussed his fate and decided 
on his death. Judas Iscariot had already promised 
to deliver his Master into their hands. It was not 
sordid avarice, but rather ambition and wounded 
pride which occasioned this black treachery. 
Judas, a type of cold egoism and absolute posi- 
tivism, incapable of the faintest idealism, had be- 
come a disciple of the Christ merely from a spirit 
of worldly speculation. He was relying on the 
earthly and immediate triumph of the prophet, and 
on his own consequent gain. The Master's pro- 
found words: He who wishes to save his life 
shall lose it, and he who is willing to lose it, 
shall save it ; had no meaning for him. Jesus, 
in his boundless charity, had received him as 
one of his disciples, in the hope of changing his 



358 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

nature. When Judas saw that matters were not 
proceeding as he wished, that Jesus and his 
disciples were compromised, and himself deceived 
in his hopes, his deception became converted into 
a feeling of rage. The wretch denounced the 
man, who, in his eyes, was only a false Messiah 
who had deceived him. The penetrating insight 
of Jesus told him what was taking place in the 
mind of the faithless apostle. He now determined 
he would no longer avoid the destiny whose in- 
extricable folds were daily tightening around him. 
It was the eve of Easter, so he ordered his disciples 
to prepare the meal at a friend’s house in the 
town. He foresaw it would be his last repast, 
and accordingly wished to give it an exceptional 
solemnity. 

Now we enter upon the final act of the Mes- 
sianic drama. In order thoroughly to understand 
the spirit and work of Jesus, it has been necessary 
to shed an inner light on the first two acts of his 
life : his initiation and public career. Subsequently, 
the inner drama of his consciousness has been 
unfolded. The final act of his life, or the drama of 
the passion, is the logical consequence of the two 
preceding. Since it is known to all, it explains 
itself, for the peculiarity of the sublime is that it 
is at # once t : mple, grand, and clear. The drama 



THE SUPPER 


359 

of the passion has powerfully contributed to the 
institution of Christianity. It has drawn tears from 
every human being possessed of a heart, and con- 
verted millions of souls. Throughout all these 
scenes the gospels are of incomparable beauty. 
Even John descends from his lofty heights, and 
his circumstantial account assumes a character of 
poignant truth such as an eye-witness alone could 
give. Every one may live again in himself the 
divine drama, no one could recreate it. And yet, 
in ending my task, I must concentrate the rays of 
esoteric tradition on the three essential events by 
which the life of the divine Master came to an end : 
the Holy Supper, the trial of the Messiah, and the 
Resurrection. If light is thrown on these points, 
it will be reflected backwards on the whole career 
of the Christ, and forwards on the succeeding 
history of Christianity. 

The twelve, forming thirteen with the Master, 
had met in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem. 
The unknown friend, Jesus’ host, had covered the 
floor with a rich carpet. In oriental fashion the 
Master and his disciples reclined on four large 
divans in the form of triclinia arranged around 
the table. When the pascal lamb, and the golden 
chalice lent by the friend, had been brought into 
the room, and the vases filled with wine,* Jesus, 



360 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

seated between John and Peter, said: " With 
desire I have desired to eat this passover with 
you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will 
not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in 
the kingdom of God." 1 Thereupon their counte- 
nances became overshadowed ; silence filled the 
air. “The disciple whom Jesus loved," who alone 
divined everything, bowed his head on the Master's 
breast. As was usual among the Jews at the 
Easter meal, not a word was uttered as they ate 
the bitter herbs and charoset placed before them. 
Finally Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks, 
he brake it and distributed unto? them, saying: 
“This is ray body which is given for you: this 
do in remembrance of me." He also took the 
cup, saying: “This cup is the new testament in 
my blood, which is shed for you/' 2 

Such is the institution of the Supper in all its 
simplicity. It has a far wider signification than 
is generally granted or known, f^r not only is the 
mystical and symbolic act the conclusion and 
risumi of the entire teaching of the Christ, it 
is the consecration and rejuvenation of a very 
ancient symbol of initiation. Among the initiates 
of Egypt and Chaldea, as among the prophets 
and Essenes, the fraternal agape marked the first 
K Luke Mil 15, 16, * Luke xxil i* 



THE SUPPER 


361 

stage of initiation. The Communion, under the 
element of bread, the fruit of the sheaf, signified 
knowledge of the mysteries of earthly life, as well 
as a sharing of terrestrial blessings, and conse- 
quently the perfect union of affiliated brothers. 
In the higher degree, communion under the 
element of wine, the blood of the vine, penetrated 
through and through by the sun, signified the 
sharing of heavenly blessings, a participation in 
spiritual mysteries and divine science. Jesus, in 
bequeathing these symbols to the apostles, enlarged 
their meaning. Through them he extends to the 
whole of mankind fraternity and initiation, for- 
merly limited to the few. To them he adds the 
profoundest of mysteries, the greatest of forces, 
that of his own sacrifice. This he converts into 
the invisible but infrangible chain of love between 
himself and his followers. It will give his 
glorified soul a divine power over their hearts, as 
well as over the hearts of all men. This cup of 
truth which had come from distant prophetic 
ages, this golden chalice of initiation which the 
old Essene had offered him in addressing him 
as prophet, this chalice of celestial love the Sons 
of Qod had offered him in the ecstasy of his 
loftiest rapture— this cup in which he now sees 
his own blood reflected — he now gives oVer to 



362 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

his well-beloved disciples with the ineffable 
tenderness of a last farewell. 

Do the apostles see and understand this re- 
deeming, world-embracing thought ? It shines in 
the Master's profound though sorrowful glance, 
as he turns from the “ disciple he loved " to the 
one about to betray him. No, they do not yet 
understand ; they seem to breathe with difficulty, 
as though under the power of some frightful 
dream ; a kind of heavy, ruddy vapour floats in 
the air, and they wonder as to the source of that 
strange radiance about the Christ head. When, 
finally, Jesus tells them that he i^ about to spend 
the night in prayer on the Mount of Olives, and, 
as he rises, requests them to follow him, they 
no longer doubt as to what is about to happen. 
.♦•••• 

The night is past ; the anguish of Gethsemane 
at an end. With terrifying clearness he has seen 
the infernal circle about to destroy him grow 
less and less. In the horror of the situation, and 
the dreadful momentary expectation of being 
seized by his enemies, a shudder passed through 
his frame ; for a moment his soul shrank before 
the tortures that awaited him ; drops of bloody 
sweat stood on his brow. Then prayer came to 
his aid. . . . Confused cries, torches flashing 



TRIAL OF JESUS 363 

beneath the gloomy olive-trees, the clash of arms, 
were so many signs testifying to the approach of 
a band of soldiers sent by the Sanhedrim. Judas, 
at their head, kisses his Master, so that they may 
recognise the prophet. Jesus returns the kiss with 
a look of ineffable compassion, and says to him : 
“ Friend, wherefore art thou come ? " The effect 
of this gentleness, this brotherly kiss given in 
exchange for the basest treason, will be such on 
that heart — notwithstanding its hardness — that, a 
moment later, Judas, overcome with horror and 
remorse, will take his own life. And now, with 
rude, cruel hands, the soldiers have seized the 
Galilean rabbi. After a brief resistance the terri- 
fied disciples have fled. Peter and John alone 
remain at hand, and follow the Master to the 
tribunal. Their hearts are well-nigh broken as 
they anxiously await his fate. Jesus has now 
regained control over himself ; from that moment 
not a single protest or complaint will break from 
his lips. 

The entire Sanhedrim is hastily assembled, and 
Jesus is brought into their presence at midnight, 
for the court is determined to deal promptly with 
the dangerous prophet. Priests and sacrificers, 
turbans on their heads and wearing purple, yellow 
and violet tunics, are solemnly seated in a* semi- 



364 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

circle. In their midst sits Caiaphas, the chief 
priest, wearing on his head the il migbih ” ; at 
each end of the arc, on two small tribunes sit the 
clerks, one for acquittal, the other for condem- 
nation : advocates Dei, advocates Diaboli . Jesus, in 
his white Essenian robe, stands impressive in the 
centre. Officers of justice, armed with ropes and 
thongs, men with bared arms and evil-looking 
eyes, stand around. Witnesses for the accusation 
alone are present ; there is not one for the 
defence. The high priest, the supreme magistrate, 
is the principal accuser ; the trial, apparently a 
measure of public safety against j crime or reli- 
gious treason, is in reality the preventive vengeance 
of an anxious priesthood which feels its power in 
danger. 

Caiaphas rises and accuses Jesus of being a 
seducer of the people, a “ m&it.” A few witnesses 
taken at hazard from the crowd give their de- 
positions, but only succeed in contradicting one 
another. Finally, one of them reports the words 
of Jesus, “ I can destroy the temple, and build it 
again in three days ” — words which had been con- 
sidered blasphemous, and which the Nazarene had 
more than once flung in the face of the Pharisees 
under Solomon's porch. Jesus holds his peace. 

** Answerest thou nothing ? ” asks the high priest. 



TRIAL OF JESUS 365 

Jesus, who knows he will be condemned, and is 
unwilling to lavish words to no purpose, still 
makes no reply. These words, however, even if 
proved, would not form sufficient motive for a 
death penalty. A graver avowal is needed. To 
force one, Caiaphas, the cunning Sadducee, ad- 
dresses him a question involving his honour, the 
vital question of his mission. The greatest skill 
often consists in going straight to the root of a 
matter. “ If thou art the Messiah, say so now ! " 
Jesus at first replies evasively, thus proving that he 
is not their dupe. “ If I say it, you will not believe 
me, but if I ask you the same question you will 
give me no answer." As Caiaphas does not suc- 
ceed in his artifice, he uses his authority as high 
priest, and solemnly says : “ I adjure thee by the 
living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the 
Christ, the Son of God.'* Thus called upon either 
to retract or to affirm his mission before the highest 
representative of the religion of Israel, Jesus no 
longer hesitates. He replies calmly, “Thou hast 
said. Nevertheless, I say unto you, hereafter shall 
ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand 
of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 1 ' 
Thus expressing himself in the prophetic language 
of Daniel, and of the book of Henoch, Jehoshoua, 
the Essene initiate, does not address Caiaphas as an 



366 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

individual. He knows that the Sadducee agnostic 
is incapable of understanding him, and accordingly 
speaks to the sovereign priest of Jehovah, and 
through him to all future priests and priesthoods of 
earth, saying to them : After my mission, sealed 
by death, the reign of unexplained religious Law 
is at an end, both in principle and in deed. The 
Mysteries shall be revealed, and man shall see the 
divine through the human. Religions and acts of 
worship which cannot be demonstrated and vivified 
by one another shall be void of authority. This, 
according to the esoterism of the prophets and 
Essenes, is the meaning of the Son sitting on the 
right hand of the Father. Thus understood, Jesus' 
reply to the high priest of Jerusalem contains the 
intellectual and scientific testament of the Christ to 
the religious authorities of the earth, just as the 
institution of the Supper contains his testament of 
love and initiation to the Apostles and to mankind 
in general. 

In addressing Caiaphas Jesus spoke to the whole 
world. The Sadducee, however, who had obtained 
what he wished, listens to nothing more. Tearing 
his vestment of fine linen, he exclaims : “ He has 
blasphemed ; what further need have we of wit- 
nesses ? Ye have heard his blasphemy ; what think 
ye of it?" A gloomy though ominous murmur 



TRIAL OF JESUS 367 

arose from the Sanhedrim : 44 He is guilty of death." 
Immediately vile insults and brutal outrage on the 
part of those of lower rank gave answer to the con- 
demnation uttered by their superiors. The guards 
spit on him and strike him in the face, as they 
exclaim : 44 Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is 
he that smote thee?" Beneath this outburst of 
low and savage hatred, the pale sublime counte- 
nance of the great sufferer resumes its visionary 
marble fixity. Some one has said that there are 
statues which weep ; there is indeed a tearless grief, 
victims' unuttered prayers, full of terror to their 
assailants whom they pursue for the remainder of 
their lives. 

All was not yet over, however. The Sanhedrim 
may pronounce the death penalty, the secular 
power and the consent of the Roman authorities 
are needed to put it into execution. The interview 
with Pilate, related in detail by John, is no less 
remarkable than that with Caiaphas. This strange 
dialogue between the Christ and the Roman gover- 
nor, to which the violence of the Jewish priests, 
and the cries of a fanatical populace, play the part 
of an ancient tragedy chorus, gives the conviction of 
a mighty dramatic truth, for it lays bare the souls 
of the different characters, and shows the clash 
of the three powers in play : Roman Caesarism, 



368 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

bigoted Judaism, and the universal religion of the 
Spirit represented by the Christ. Pilate, totally 
indifferent to the religious quarrel, but greatly 
troubled over the matter, for he is afraid the death 
of Jesus will occasion a rising of the people, ques- 
tions him with a certain amount of precaution, 
and offers him a means of escape, in the hope that 
he will take advantage of it. “Art thou^he King 
of the Jews ?” Jesus answered : “ My kingdom is 
not of this world.” Pilate asked : *< Then thou art 
a king ? ” Jesus again replied : “ To this end was 
I born, and for this cause came I into the world, 
that I should bear witness *tmto the truth.' 
Pilate no more understands this affirmation of the 
spiritual royalty of Jesus than Caiaphas understood 
his religious testament. “What is truth?” he 
remarks, with a shrug of the shoulders. The scep- 
tical Roman knight's question reveals the state of 
mind in which the heathen world then was, as it 
does that of all society in a state of decadence. 
All the same, as he did not see in the accused Jesus 
anything other than a harmless dreamer, he added : 

** I find no fault in him,” and proposes to the Jews 
that he should liberate him. The populace, how- 
ever, instigated by the priests, cries aloud : " Re- 
lease ft unto us Barabbast” Then Pilate, who 
detests the Jews, gives himself the ironical pleasure 



TRIAL OF JESUS 369 

of causing their pretended king to be beaten with 
rods. He thinks this will satisfy the fanatics, but 
they only become the more furious, and madly 
exclaim : 44 Crucify him ! ” 

In spite of this outburst of popular passion, 
Pilate still resists. He is tired of being cruel. 
Throughout his life he has seen so much blood- 
shed, pimfshed with death so many rebels, and 
heard so many groans and curses without his 
equanimity being troubled in the slightest. But 
the mute, stoic suffering of the Galilean prophet 
beneath the purple cloak and crown of thorns has 
sent a hitherto unknown thrill through his very 
being. In a strange fugitive vision he utters the 
words, with no idea of their import : “ Ecce 
Holio! Behold the Man!" The stern hard- 
hearted Roman is almost overcome with emotion ; 
he is on the point of pronouncing a sentence of 
acquittal. The priests of the Sanhedrim, with eyes 
intently fixed on him, see his emotion, and are 
filled with terror in consequence ; they fee! that 
their prey is escaping them. Craftily they delibe- 
rate among themselves. After a few moments they 
raise their right hands, and, turning aside their 
heads with horrified gesture, exclaim in one voice : 
“ He has made himself the Son of God ! ” 

When Pilate heard that vsaying, says Jolin, his 
Hi 2 



370 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

fear increased. Fear of what ? What meaning 
had this for the unbelieving Roman, who heartily 
despised both the Jews and their religion, and 
believed in none other than Caesar, and the poli- 
tical religion of Rome ? . . . There is a serious 
reason for this. Although different meanings were 
given to it, the expression “ Son of God ” was tole- 
rably well known in ancient esoterism, and Pilate, 
although sceptical, was not altogether free from 
superstition. At Rome, in the Minor Mysteries of 
Mithras, in which Roman knights became initiated, 
he had heard that a Son of God was a kind of inter- 
preter of divinity. To whateverAiation or religion 
he belonged, an attempt on his life was a great 
crime. Pilate had little faith in these Persian 
reveries, but the name troubled him nevertheless, 
and increased his embarrassment. Seeing this, the 
Jews fling at the proconsul the final accusation : 
41 If thou settest free this man, thou art no friend of 
Caesar's ; whosoever maketh himself a kingspeaketh 
against Caesar. . . . We have no king but Caesar." 
Irresistible argument ; denying God is of little 
import, but conspiring against Caesar is the crime 
of crimes. Pi fate is obliged to give way and pro- 
nounce sentence of condemnation. Thus, at the 
end of his public career Jesus finds himself face to 
face With the master of the world, against whom 



37 1 


TRIAL OF JESUS 

he — an occult opponent — has fought indirectly all 
his life. The shadow of Caesar sends him to the 
cross! Profound is the logic of events; the Jews 
have delivered him up to judgment, but it is the 
Roman spectre which stretches out its hand to kill. 
The body indeed is destroyed, but it is he, the 
glorified Christ, whose martyrdom will for ever 
deprive Caesar of the aureole he has usurped, the 
divine apotheosis, this infernal blasphemy of abso- 
lute power. 

Pilate, after washing his hands of the blood of 
the innocent Jesus, now utters the terrible words : 
Condemno , ibis in crucem ; and the impatient mob 
hurries away in the direction of Golgotha. 

fallowing them we find ourselves on the barren 
heights overlooking Jerusalem, and bearing the 
name of Gilgal, Golgotha, or place of skulls ; a 
sinister desert covered with human bones, for 
centuries the scene of horrible punishments. Not 
a tree can be seen, the ground seems to bristle 
with gibbets. It is here that Alexander Janneus 
had come with his whole harem to witness the 
execution of hundreds of prisoners; here that 
Varus had crucified two thousand rebels ; and now 
the gentle Messiah, whose coming had been fore- 
told by the prophets, was on this same spot to 



372 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

undergo the terrible death penalty, invented by the 
atrocious genius of the Phoenicians, and adopted 
by the implacable law of Rome. The cohort of 
the legionaries has formed a mighty circle on the 
top of the hill ; they drive away with their lances 
the few followers who remained faithful to the 
condemned Christ. These are Galilean women, 
mute with despair, who fling themselves on the 
ground before the cross. The final hour has come ; 
the defender of the poor, the feeble and the op- 
pressed, must finish his task in that state of abject 
martyrdom reserved for slaves and robbers. . The 
prophet, consecrated by the E4senes, must allow 
himslf to be nailed to the cross he had accepted 
in the vision of Engaddi ; the Son of God must 
drink of the chalice which had appeared to him 
in the Transfiguration, and must descend into the 
depths of hell and of all earthly horror. ... He 
has refused the traditional drink prepared by the 
pious women of Jerusalem, and which is intended 
to deaden the sufferings of the crucified victims. 
In fullest consciousness will he suffer the agony 
of death. Bound to the cruel gibbet, as the stern 
hard-hearted soldiers with mighty hammer-blows 
drive the naijs into those feet, the object of such 
passionate reverence, and through those hands 
never* raised except in blessing, a dull mlst t,f 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 373 

horrible pain closes his eyes and chokes his throat. 
Still, amid such convulsions of pain and infernal 
anguish, the Saviour pleads for his executioners : 
** Father, forgive them, for they know not what they 
do." 

Now the cup is being drained to its dregs ; the 
death-agony lasts from noon to sunset. Moral is 
added to physical torture, which it surpasses in 
malignity. The initiate has abdicated his powers, 
the Son of God is about to suffer eclipse ; only the 
man of sorrows remains. For a few hours he will 
lose his heaven, to measure and fathom the depths 
of the abyss of human suffering. There stands 
the cross with its victim, and the superscription 
— the proconsul's final shaft of irony — M This is 
the King of the Jews ! " As through a mist of 
anguish, the crucified one sees the holy city 
Jerusalem he wished to glorify now huiling 
anathemas against him. Where are his disciples ? 
They have disappeared in all directions. He hears 
nothing but the insults of the members of the 
Sanhedrim, who, imagining that the prophet is no 
longer to be feared, exult with joy at his death- 
struggles. “ He saved others/' they say ; “ him- 
self he cannot save 1 " Through such perverse 
blasphemies Jesus sees, in terrifying prophetic 
vision, all the crimes that unjust potentates and 



374 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

fanatical priests are to commit in his name. With 
his own sign will they pronounce maledictions, 
and with his own cross will they crucify. It is 
not the gloomy silence of the heavens veiled 
against him, but rather the light, lost to humanity, 
which tears from him the despairing wail : 44 Father, 
why hast thou forsaken me?" Then, in one final 
burst, there springs forth from his soul the cry, 44 It 
is finished ! ” 

Sublime Nazarene, divine Son of Man, even now 
is the victory thine. Doubtless thy soul has once 
again found, in light more dazzling than before, 
the heaven of Engaddi and * Mount Tabor ! 
Down through the ages hast thou seen thy woid 
fleeting victorious, and no other glory hast thou 
desired than the uplifted hands and eyes of those 
thou hast healed and comforted, t . . Even now 
a shudder of dread comes over thy torturers, as 
they listen to thy final words so full of meaning 
but which they do not understand. The Roman 
soldiers have turned to gaze at the strange radiance 
thy spirit has left on the tranquil countenance of 
this corpse, whilst thy slayers look at one another 
in wonder and say : 44 Could this have been a 
God?” 

. « * • • 

Is the drama really finished ? Is the silent though 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 375 

formidable strife now at an end, the struggle 
between divine Love and Death which has united 
with the reigning powers of earth to overwhelm 
him, at last closed ? Where is the victor ? Does 
triumph remain with those self-satisfied priests as 
they descend from Calvary well pleased with their 
deed, for they have seen the prophet breathe his 
last, or with this pale crucified Christ, already livid 
in death? For these faithful, weeping women, 
whom the Roman legionaries have permitted to 
approach the foot of the cross, as well as for the 
terror-stricken disciples who have taken refuge in 
the grotto of Jehoshaphat, all is indeed at an end. 
The Messiah, who was to be enthroned at Jerusalem, 
has died an infamous death on the cross. The 
Master has disappeared, and with him hope, the 
Gospel, the Kingdom of Heaven itself. A gloomy 
silence of deep despair hangs over the small com- 
munity. Even Peter and John are overwhelmed 
with grief. Darkness is all around ; not a single 
ray illumines their souls. And yet, just as, in the 
Eleusinian mysteries, profound darkness is followed 
by a dazzling light, so, in the Gospels, this deep 
despair is succeeded by a sudden miraculous joy 
which bursts forth like a beam of light at sunrise, 
and the joyful cry resounds throughout Judaea ; 
44 He is risen again!" 

Mary Magdalene, wandering near the tomb in 



376 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

the excess of her grief, was the first to see the 
Master, and to recognise him by his voice as he 
uttered her name, Mary ! Overcome with joy, she 
threw herself at his feet. Again she saw Jesus look 
at her, and wave his hand as though to prevent 
her touching him ; then the apparition suddenly 
vanished, leaving around the Magdalene an atmos- 
phere of warmth and the delight of a real presence. 
Afterwards the holy women met the Lord, who said 
to them: “Go and tell my brethren to proceed 
to Galilee, there they shall see me/' That same 
evening, as the eleven were met in private, they 
saw Jesus enter the room. He tdok a seat in their 
midst, and gently reproached them for their un- 
belief. Then he said: “Go ye into all the world 
and preach the gospel to every creature/' They 
listened to him as in a dream, for they seemed to 
have completely forgotten his death, and were per- 
suaded that the Master would not again leave them. 
However, just as they were about to speak, they 
saw him disappear from their midst like a vanishing 
light. The echo of his voice still vibrated in their 
ears. The apostles, amazed, sought the spot where 
lc had been ; there still lingered a vague light, 
which quickly disappeared. According to Matthew 
and Mark, Jesus appeared once more on a mountain 
to five Jjundred of the brethren assembled by the 
apostles. He also showed himself again to the 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 377 

eleven, after which the apparitions ceased. Faith, 
however, had been created, the first impulse given, 
and Christianity was a living force. The apostles, 
filled with the sacred fire, went about healing the 
sick and preaching their Master's gospel. Three 
years afterwards, a young Pharisee, named Saul, 
animated by violent hatred against the new religion, 
whose defenders he persecuted with all the vigour 
of youth, journeyed to Damascus, accompanied by 
several companions. On the way he saw himself 
suddenly enveloped in so dazzling a flame of fire, 
that he fell to the earth. Trembling, he exclaimed : 
"Who art thou?" A voice replied: "I am Jesus whom 
thou persecutest ; it is hard for thee to kick against 
the pricks." Saul's terrified companions raised him 
to his feet. They had heard the voice though they 
had seen nothing. The young man, blinded by the 
flash, recovered his sight only three days afterwards. 

Converted to the faith of the Christ, he became 
Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. On this one point 
is the whole world agreed, that but for Saul’s con- 
version Christianity, confined as it was to Judaea, 
would never have conquered the Western world. 

Such are the facts as related in the New Testa* 
ment. Whatever efforts be made to reduce their 
results to a minimum, and whatever be the religious 
or philosophical idea attached to them, th$y can- 
not be regarded as legends, pure and simple, and 



378 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

refused the value of authentic testimony on all essen- 
tial points* For eighteen centuries the waves of 
doubt and denial have assailed the rock of this 
testimony ; for a hundred years the weapons of 
criticism have been directed against it. Breaches 
have been effected in places, but its position remains 
steadfast. What is there behind the visions of the 
apostles ? Elementary theologians, interpreters of 
the letter, and agnostic savants may dispute for 
ever ; they will never convert one another, and their 
reasonings will be in vain, so long as Theosophy, 
the science of the Spirit, has not enlarged their con- 
ceptions, and a superior experimental psychology, 
the art of laying bare the soul, left their eyes un- 
opened. But from the standpoint of the conscien- 
tious historian, i.e. the authenticity of these facts as 
psychical actualities, there is one point on which 
doubt is impossible: that the apostles had these 
apparitions, and that it was impossible to shake 
their faith in the resurrection of the Christ. If 
John's account be rejected on the ground of its 
definite compilation about a hundred years after 
the death of Jesus, and also Luke's account of 
the Christ's appearance to the disciples at Emmaus 
regarded as a mere poetical amplification, there 
still remain the simple and positive affirmations of 
Matthfw and Mark, which lie at the very root of 
the Christian tradition and religion. And even more 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 379 

solid and indisputable is the testimony of Paul. 
Wishing to explain to the Corinthians the reason 
of his faith and the basis of the gospel he preaches, 
he enumerates in order six successive appearances 
of Jesus : those to Peter, to the eleven, to the five 
hundred, <# most of whom," he says, “ are still 
living"; to James, to the assembled apostles, and 
finally, his own vision on the way to Damascus. 
These facts were communicated to Paul by Peter 
himself, and by James, three years after the death 
of Jesus, just after Paul's conversion, at the time 
of his first journey to Jerusalem. Accordingly he 
received them from eye-witnesses. Finally, the 
most indisputable of all these visions is by no 
means the least extraordinary ; 1 refer to that of 
Paul himself. He continually alludes to it in his 
Epistles as being the source of his faith. Given 
the former psychological condition of Paul and the 
nature of his vision, we see it is from without, not 
from within. Of an unexpected and terrifying 
character, it completely changes his whole being. 
Like a baptism of fire, it descends upon him, clothes 
him in a new and impenetrable armour, and estab- 
lishes him in the sight of the whole world as the 
invincible champion of the Christ. 

Paul’s testimony accordingly possesses a double 
authority, in so far as it confirms his owij vision 
and corroborates those of the others. Whoever 



380 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

might feel inclined to doubt the sincerity of such 
affirmations would be obliged to reject en masse all 
historical testimony, and to renounce the writing of 
history. JNote, too, that if critical history is incom- 
patible with an exact weighing and well-thought-out 
selection of all the documents, philosophical history 
would also be impossible, if greatness of effects 
could not be referred back to greatness of causes. 
It would be possible with Celsus, Strauss, and 
M. Renan to refuse all objective value to the resur- 
rection, and consider it as a phenomenon resulting 
from pure hallucination. If so, one is obliged to 
found the greatest religious revoltition.of humanity 
on an aberration of the senses and a mere de- 
lusion of the mind. 1 There can be no denying that 
faith in the resurrection is the basis of historical 
Christianity. But for this confirmation of Jesus 
teaching by a dazzling fact, his religion would not 
even have had a beginning. 

This event effected a complete revolution in the 
souls of the apostles. In consequence of it their 
whole mental attitude, from being Judaic, became 
Christian. The Christ is living in glory, lie has 
ipdcen to them. The heavens have opened ; the 
lifebeyond has entered into the life within, the 
dawn of immortality ha9 touched them and kindled 

* Stistaft “ The (act of the rest* rrection is explicable only as 
* ell weit&ftoriacher humbug. ’ ” The expression is rather cynic® * un 
wfetyyftad do* not explain the visions of the apostles and of Paul. 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 381 

their souls with a fire which nothing can extinguish. 
Above Israel's tottering earthly kingdom, they have 
caught a glimpse of the world-wide heavenly king- 
dom in all its glory. Hence their eagerness for the 
strife, their joy in martyrdom. Jesus* resurrection 
gives birth to this mighty impulse and hope which 
carries the gospel to all nations and the good tidings 
to the utmost limits of earth. For the success of 
Christianity two things were necessary, as Fabre 
d'Olivet has said : that Jesus should be willing to die, 
and that he should have the power to rise again. * 
To form a rational idea of the fact of the re- 
surrection, ^pd understand its religious and philo- 
sophical bearing, one must consider only the 
phenomenon of the successive appearances, and, 
from the very outset, remove from one’s mind 
the absurd idea of the resurrectiorr of the body, 
one of the greatest stumbling-blocks of Christian 
dogma, which, in this particular as in many others, 
has remained at quite a childish and rudimentary 
stage. The disappearance of Jesus' body can be 
explained by natural causes, and it is worthy of 
note that the bodies of several great adepts have 
disappeared quite as mysteriously and without 
leaving the slightest trace. It has never been 
discovered what became of the bodies of Moses, 
Pythagoras, and Apollonius of Tyana. possibly 
the brothers, known or unknown, who kept watch 



382 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

over them, destroyed by fire their master’s body, to 
prevent pollution at the hands of enemies. In any 
case f it is only when regarded from the esoteric 
point of view that the scientific aspect and spiritual 
grandeur of the resurrection really appear. 

By Egyptians as by Persians, of the religion of 
Zoroaster, both before and after Jesus, by Israelites 
and by Christians of the first and second centuries, 
the resurrection has been interpreted in two ways, 
the one material and absurd, the other spiritual 
*nd theosophical. The first is the popular idea, 
finally adopted by the Church after the repression 
of gnosticism ; the second is the 4 profpund idea of 
the initiates. According to the first view, the re 
surrection signifies the return to life of the material 
body ; in a word, the reconstitution of the de- 
composed or dispersed corpse, so it was imagined, 
was destined to take place at the coming of the 
Messiah, or at the Last Judgment. It is useless to 
insist on the gross materialism and absurdity of 
this conception. To the initiate the resurrection 
has a far different meaning. It refers to the 
doctrine of the ternary constitution of man. It 
signifies the purification and regeneration of the 
sidereal, ethereal, and fluidic body, which is the 
very organism of the soul. This purification may 
take" place commencing from the present life, 
through t^e inn|r work of the soul, and a certain 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 383 

method of existence ; although, for the generality 
of mankind, it finds accomplishment only after 
death, and then for those only who, in one way 
or another, have aspired towards justice and truth. 
In the other world hypocrisy is impossible. There 
souls appear as they are in reality, they fatally 
manifest themselves under the form and colour 
of their essence ; dark and hideous if they are 
evil ; radiant and beautiful if they are goad. Such 
is the doctrine given by Paul in the Epistle to the 
Corinthians, where he formally says : “ There is an# 
animal body and there is a spiritual body/' 1 Jesus 
states this symbolically but with greater profundity 
for those who can read between the lines in the 
secret conversation with Nicodemus. Now, the 
more a soul is spiritualised, the farther will it be 
from the earthly atmosphere ; the farther away 
the cosmic region which attracts it by the law of 
affinity, the more difficult its manifestation to men. 

Accordingly, superior souls seldom manifest 
themselves to man, except in a state of ecstasy 
or profound slumber. Then, the physical eyes 
being closed, the soul, half detached from the 
body, itself sees souls at times. Nevertheless it 
sometimes happens that a migllty prophet, a veil* 
table son of God, manifests himself to his own in 
the waking state of consciousness, the better to 
1 1 Cor. *t. 3^46 



384 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

persuade them by a striking appeal to sense and 
imagination. In such r instance# the disincarnated 
fOttinsucceeds in momentarily giving its spiritual 
body a visible, sometimes even a tangible appear- 
ance, by means of ^he special dynamics exercised 
by spirit over matter, through the jjtermediafy of 
the electrical forces of the atmos|j|j|re and the 
magnetic forces of living bodies. 

Appardktly this is what happened in the cast of 
Jesus. The appearances related in the New Testa- 
ment may be placed in one or the other, alternately, 
of these two categories — spiritual vision and sense 
apparition. What is certain is that they possessed 
for the apostles the character of supreme reality. 
They would rather have doubted the existence of 
heaven and earth than their living communion 
with the resurrected Christ ; for these soul-stirring 
appearances formed the brightest events in their 
lives, the profoundest truth of which they were 
conscious. There is nothing supernatural in them 
though there is an unknown element in Nature, 
its occult continuation into the Infinite, the flashes 
of the invisible on the confines of the visible. 1» 
our, present corporeal state we can scarcely believe 
cc^ven conceive ot the reality of the impalpable ; 
in the spiritual state, it is matter which will appear 
to us t^e unreal and non-existent. In the Spirit is 
found the of soul and matter, two phases 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 385 

of the one substance. Reverting to eternal prin- 
ciples and final tauses, it is the innate laws of 
intelligence which explain the dynamics of nature, 
as it is the study of the soul, by experimental psy- 
chology which explains the laws of life. 

Consequefl^ the resurrection, esoterically under- 
stood as llttjjjp just pointed out, was at once the 
necessary conclusion of the life of Jesus and the 
indispensable preface to the historical evolution 
of Christianity, — necessary conclusion, for Jesus 
had on several occasions announced it to his dm 
ciples. The power of appearing to them in trium- 
phant glory after his death was due to the purity 
and innate force of his soul, increased a hun- 
dred fold by the grandeur of the effort and of the 
accomplished work. 

Regarded from without, and from an earthly 
point of view, the Messianic drama ends on the 
cross. Though sublime in itself, there is yet lack- 
ing the fulfilment of the promise. Regarded from 
within, from the inmost consciousness of the Christ, 
and from the heavenly point of view, the drama 
contains three acts, whose summits are marked by 
the Temptation* the Transfiguration, and the Re- 
surrection. These three phases represent in other 
terms, the Initiation of the Christ, the total Revela- 
tion, and the Crowning of the work. They cor- 
respond to what the apostles apl th^Chr^stian 
lh 2 B 



386 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

initiates of the first centuries called the Mysteries 
of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 

A necessary crowning, as T have said, of the life 
of the Christ, and an indispensable preface to the 
historical evolution of Christianity. The ship, built 
on the beach, needed to be launched on the ocean. 
The resurrection was, in addition, as a flood of 
light thrown on the whole esoteric life of Jesus. 
We have no occasion for astonishment at finding 
that the early Christians were, so to speak, dazzled 
and blinded by the wonderful event, that they 
often gave a literal interpretation to the Master's 
teaching, and mistook the meaning of his words. 
But in these days, now that the human spirit has 
traversed ages, religions, and sciences, we can 
divine what a Saint Paul, a Saint John, what Jesus 
himself understood by the mysteries of the Father 
and of the Spirit. We see that they contained the 
very highest and truest elements of the psychical 
science and theosophic intuition of the East. We 
also see the power of renewed expansion given 
by the Christ to the ancient eternal truth by the 
grandeur of his love and the energy of his will. 
Finally, we see the metaphysical and practical side 
of Christianity, the cause of its power and vitality. 

The old theosophists of Asia were acquainted 
with transcendent truths. The Brahmans even 
foujyi thft key to the past and future life by 



DEATH AND RESURRECTION 387 

formulating the organic law of reincarnation and 
the alternation & lives. In entering the life 
beyond, however, atid contemplating Eternity, 
they forgot terrestrial realisation, individual and 
social life. Greece, at first initiated into the same 
truths under more veiled and anthropomorphic 
forms, became attached by its very genius to the 
natural terrestrial life. This enabled it to reveal 
the immortal laws of Beauty, and to formulate the 
principles of the sciences of observation. From 
this point of view, its conception of the life beyond 
gradually diminished and darkened. Jesus, in his 
breadth and universality, embraces both sides of 
life. In the Lord's Prayer, which sums up his 
teaching, he says : " Thy kingdom come on earth 
as in heaven." Now the kingdom of the divine 
on earth signifies the fulfilment of the motal and 
social law in all its richness, in all the glory of 
the Beautiful, the Good, and the True. Thus the 
magic of his doctrine, his — in a sense — unlimited 
power of development, dwell in the unity of his 
moral and metaphysical aspects, his ardent faith 
in the life eternal, and the necessity he felt of 
beginning it in the world by a life of action and 
love. The Christ says to the soul, cast down by 
earthly trouble : “ Rise ; heaveft is thy fatherland ; 
still, in order to believe this and to attain thereto, 
prove it here below by deeds of love.” ^ 



CHAPTER VII 

THE PROMISE AND ITS FULFILMENT — THE 
TEMPLE 

u IN three days I will destroy the temple, and in 
three days I will build it up again/' This was said 
to his disciples by the Son of Mary, the Essene 
consecrated as Son of Man, ms the spiritual in- 
heritor of the Word of Moses^of Hermes, and of 
aIL||t|fofiner Sons of God. Has this bold pro- 
niKItbe word of initiator and initiate, been 

Ifliffied ? Yes, if consideration be taken of the 
« * 
Resequences which the teaching of the Christ, 

confirmed by his death and spiritual resurrection, 

have had for humanity, and all the consequences 

his promise holds over a limitless future. His 

word and sacrifice have laid the foundations of an 

invisible temple, but it is only continued and brought 

to completion in proportion as each individual, 

throughout all time, contributes to the work. 

What is this temple ? It is of a nature at once 

moral/rtocial, and-physical, the temple of regenerate 

huopnity. 



THE PROMISE AND ITS FULFILMENT 389 

The moral temple is the regeneration of the 
human soul, the transformation of individuals by the 
human ideal offered £s an example to humanity in 
the person of Jesus. The wonderful harmony and 
plenitude of his virtues make it difficult to define ; 
balanced reason, mystic intuition, human sympathy, 
power of word and action ; infinite compassion, 
love even unto sacrifice, courage unto death ; no 
experience was unknown to him. There was 
sufficient soul in every drop of his blood to make 
a hero, and yet, what divine gentleness was his ! 
The profound union of heroism and love, of will 
and intelligence, of the Eternal-Masculine with the 
Eternal-Feminine make of him the flower of the 
human ideal. His whole moral teaching ^r^pse 
loftiest expression is unending brotherly lo^|rkt^ 
a universal human alliance, flows naturally frojjiflf 
such a mighty personality. The work of thif 
eighteen centuries which have elapsed since his 
death has resulted in the inculcating of this ideal 
in the consciousness of all mankind. For there is 
scarcely a man throughout the civilised world who 
does not possess a more or less clear notion thereof. 
Accordingly, it may be affirmed that the moral 
temple desired by the Christ is, if not finished, at 
any rate based on an indestructible foundation at 
the present day* 

n •• m 



390 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

It is not so with the social temple. This supposes 
the establishment of the kingdom of God or of the 
providential law in the oi^anic institutions of 
humanity ; it remains to be constructed from the 
foundation. For men still live in a state of warfare 
under the law of Force and Destiny. The law of 
the Christ, which remains in the moral conscience, 
has not yet passed into human institutions. I have 
only incidentally touched upon questions of social 
and political organisation in this book, which is 
solely intended to tffrow light on the philosophical 
and religious question at its base, through some of 
the essential esoteric truths. In these few con- 
cluding words 1 will not discuss the question any 
further. It if 1 too vast ancLcomplex, and beyond 
my power to attempt even to define # within the 
compass of a few words. 1 will me4|y say that 
social warfare exists, as a principle, in alLEuropean 
countries. There are no economic, religious, or 
social |JHnciples admitted byj^l classes of society. 
The nations of Europe, also, have not ceased 
existing in a state of open war or armed peace 
with one another. They are united by no common 
federative principle* Their interests and common 
aspirations appeal to no^ecognised authority, they 
have no sanction before any supreme tribunal. If 
the law'of the Chrf&t ha* penetrated into individual 



THE TEMPLE 


39 1 

consciousness and, up to a certain point, into social 

life, it is still the pagan and barbarian law which 

governs our political* institutions. At the present 

time, political power is everywhere constituted 

on insufficient foundations. On the one hand it 

emanates from the so-called divine right of kings, 

which is none other than military force ; on the 

other from universal suffrage, which is simply the 

instinct of the masses, or mere average intelligence. 

A nation is not a number of uniform values or 

# 

ciphers ; it is a living being composed of organs. 
So long as national representation is not the image 
of this organisation, right from its working to its 
teaching classes, «there will be no organic or in- 
telligent national representation. %o long as the 
delegates cfc all scientific bodies, and the whole of 
the Christfta churches do qot sit together in one 
upper council, our societies will be governed by 
instinct, by passion, and by might, and there will 
be no social temple^ 

Then how comes it that, rising above the Church 
which is too small to contain him in his entirety, 
above politics which deny him, and above Science 
which only half understands hiip, the Christ is 
fuller of life than ever ? *lt is because his sublime 
morality is the corollary of & science even more 
sublime. Behind him We perceive, contemporary 



392 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

with and beyond the time of Moses, the whole 
ancient theosophy of Indian, Egyptian, and Grecian 
initiates, of whom he forms f a striking confirma- 
tion. We are beginning to understand that Jesus, 
at the very height of his consciousness, the trans- 
figured Christ, is opening his loving arms to his 
brothers, the other Messiahs who preceded him, 
beams of the Living Word as he was, that he is 
opening them wide to Science in its entirety, Art 
in its divinity, and Life in its completeness. But 
his promise cannot be fulfilled without the help 
of all the living forces of humanity. Two main 
things are necessary nowadays for Ahe continua- 
tion of the mighty work on the one hand, the 
progressive unfolding of experimental science and 
intuitive philosophy to facts of psychic order, in- 
tellectual principles, and spiritual prodfs ; on the 
other, the expansion of Christian dogma in the 
direction of tradition and esoteric science, and 
subsequently a reorganisation, of the Church ac- 
cording to a graduated initiation ; this by a free 
and irresistible movement of all Christian churches, 
which are also equally daughters of the Christ. 
Science must become religious and religion scien- 
tific. This double evoliftion, already in prepara- 
tion, would finally and forcibly bring about a 
reconciliation of Science and Religion on esoteric 



THE TEMPLE 


393 


grounds. The work will not progress without 
considerable difficulty at first, but the future of 
European Society depends on it. The transfor- 
mation of Christianity in its esoteric sense would 
bring with it that of Judaism and Islam, as well 
as a regeneration of Brahminism and Buddhism 
in the same fashion ; it would accordingly furnish 
a religious basis for the reconciliation of Asia and 
Europe. 

This is*4he spiritual temple to be constructed, 
the crowning of the word intuitively conceived 
and desired by Jesus. Can his message of Love 
form the magnetic chain of Science and Art, of 
religions and peoples, and thus become the uni- 
versal word? 

At the present time the Christ is master of the 
globe, through the two youngest and most vigorous 
races, still full of faith. By way of Russia he has 
a foothold in Asia, and through the Anglo-Saxon 
race he rules the New World. Europe is older 
than America, but younger than Asia. They 
slander Europe, who believe her destined to an 
irremediable decadence. Still, if she continues her 
internal struggles, instead of federating beneath 
the rule of one capable authority, at once scientific 
and religious ; if, through the extinction of this 
faith which is only the love-fed light of the spirit, 



394 JESUS, THE LAST GREAT INITIATE 

she is continuing the preparation for her moral 
and social decomposition, her civilisation runs the 
risk of perishing, first by social upheavals, and 
afterwards by the invasion of younger races, whi$h 
will seize the torch dropped from her hands. 

Surely she has a more glorious part to play, 
the preservation of the guiding of the world, by 
finishing the social work of the Christ, formulating 
his complete, and perfected thought, and crowning 
by the help of Science, Art, and Justice, tfie spiritual 
temple of the greatest of the Sons of God. , 


THE END 


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